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Strictly Speaking

Expanding Awareness of Others


In current usage, the word dexterous intends to communicate a sense of deftness of hand, coordination of fine motors skills, a knack for moving objects around in space without smashing them (or yourself) up. Strictly applied, this word’s origin excludes more than twelve percent of the population, in particular all of those who happen to be left handed. Since dexterous derives from the Latin dexter, for right handed, no left handed person can be dexterous.

Nor can they be ambidextrous, which would mean, literally, having a right hand at the end of both arms and being able to juggle as well as an anatomically normal person. Better for the intended meaning is ambichiral, which means that each hand is as agile as the other at writing, throwing, juggling and all those things like dancing the hand jive, an ambichiral dance.

As for left handers, if deft with moving objects they are sinistral, from the Latin word for left, which also spins off into sinister, or evil. People who are sinistral are not necessarily sinister, but the expression “right hand man” come from the position of trust of a person seated at a table directly to the right of the king, or pope, or emperor, because from that position, an easy and powerful twist could put a knife quite literally right through the heart of the monarch. If seated directly to the left of the ruler, a right handed person would need first to show his weapon, then lean away from the target and lash back, requiring three motions and employing less force in the intended lethal strike.

Of course for a left handed person seated to the left, it would be as easy to strike powerfully at a leader as for a right-handed person seated to the right. Perhaps if the second most trusted man in the kingdom is left handed, he needs to sit two seats to the left, with one seat left vacant, hovered over by somePretorian guard ready to interdict.

The seating arrangement to the left is also the origin of the expression back-handed complement, since a right hander seated to the left has difficulty assuming normal and relaxed posture when leaning in toward, or speaking to, the king, who is always aware of the back-handedness of the second banana’s posture.

The numerical superiority of right handers has led to a world so completely designed for leading with the right hand that everything from drinking fountains to golf clubs were originally for right handers only. The proliferation of these disadvantages results in accident rates that leave left handers two years younger than their right handed counterparts at time of death. Its unfair to add the disadvantage of careless usage to that pattern. If we're not using "nigger" for PC reasons, we should watch our word regarding other prejudices.

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