Poll: Do you think handedness is related to language skills?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 23:19
Jul 15, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think handedness is related to language skills?".

This poll was originally submitted by Alan Corbo. View the poll results »


John Cutler  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
My data Jul 15, 2010

Quick definitions (handedness)

▸ noun: the property of using one hand more than the other

I don't know. There must be studies on something like this. My oldest daughter is the only left-handed person in my entire family. She's likes math and sciences. I'm right-handed and prefer languages and arts. That's all the data I can give in case anyone has their own theory.


Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:19
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Jul 15, 2010

Not sure, my father is technically minded and gets his hands dirty, I am right handed and also technically minded, but dont get my hands dirty?


Carla Catolino
Local time: 08:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
One side of the brain Jul 15, 2010

I don't know if it has to do with handedness....however, I once read an article that said that one side of our brain is stronger than the other and that one side is dedicated to arts, languages etc. and the other side is dedicated to maths, sciences, etc.


Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:19
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
My left-handed dad Jul 15, 2010

My dad was left-handed, and he was into languages and the arts in a big way, and not into science at all or particularly good at maths. However, he was very into (and good at) crosswords and puzzles. Nobody else in the family is left-handed.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 07:19
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
What about me? Jul 15, 2010

I love maths and languages and I am right-handed!


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:19
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Are there more left handers among translators than in the general population? Jul 15, 2010

There was a myth that left handedness was linked to stammering, and my mother in law believed it was a self-fulfilling prophecy! By the time I knew her, she was uncertain about which of her sons were originally left handed. They were all made to write with their right hands at school.

One of them stammered as a child. I am not sure whether he was really left handed, but he had the best handwriting of the three!

My husband did not stammer, and remembers distinctly the battle of the pencil in the right hand. (And I sometimes say you have to be in love with him to read his handwriting. icon_wink.gif ) He uses tools and anything like that left handed. He is an economist, good at figures AND languages. Besides the three Scandinavian languages and English he gets by in French, German and Spanish.

I am left handed and specialise too much in Danish and English to keep my other languages up to scratch, but I used to be quite fluent in French and German (tho´my grammar was shaky!). I read and work with Swedish and Norwegian, but like most Scandinavians, only speak one of the three languages.

There are a lot of left-handers in my family, but it does not correlate closely with languages. This might be partly due to not travelling much in some cases. But I specialised in language and struggled with maths from fairly early on at school.

My father is right handed and a linguist, though he claims it was a battle and he preferred maths! He worked with New Testament Greek and Marathi, could take a church service and greet the congregation afterwards in three or four more Indian languages, and read theology in German if no translation was available in the library.

My son is right handed, bilingual Danish-English, and good at German at least. He is one of the family's hard-core maths-physics specialists...

I am not sure about the rest of the younger generation, but the one with ambitions about translation IS left handed...

I once attended a course in French for Danes where five of the eight students wrote with their left hands! Danes think French is difficult, and those who had got as far as that particular course were all serious language professionals.

I have read that som 10-12 per cent of the general population are left handed, but the percentage is higher among linguists.
I do not remember how linguists were defined for that survey, however.

So my one-woman survey is inconclusive. I'm eagerly watching this space!

[Edited at 2010-07-15 14:50 GMT]


Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:49
English to Gujarati
+ ...
Adding to the survey Jul 15, 2010

I am ambidextrous to a great extent, but I am not confused at all.icon_wink.gif


Elizabeth Faracini  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:19
Member (2010)
Italian to English
+ ...
I'm right-handed but... Jul 15, 2010

I began with my left. My mom, who is left-handed, made me switch when I was young.

She has perfect handwriting, and grew up speaking both Canadian French and English, but is having some difficulty with learning Portuguese, which she now studies.

I have terrible handwriting, but learn languages rather easily.

My father and sister are and always have been right-handed, and neither of them speak other languages.


Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:19
French to English
+ ...
Not necessarily Jul 15, 2010

I'm right-handed, and did both Maths and languages at A'level - although I wouldn't say I was good at Maths, by any stretch of the imagination! My younger son has also just done his A'levels in Maths and languages and is hopefully on course to get good grades in all of them - he's right-handed too, but can use his left for some things, as can my father who used to play golf and table-tennis left-handed. I suspect genes have more to do with it than handedness as such. My father isn't a linguist, but then he left school at 14 and went straight into an apprenticeship, so he didn't really have the opportunity. I suspect he would have been good at languages had he had the grounding.

[Edited at 2010-07-15 11:35 GMT]


Sandra Petch
Local time: 08:19
French to English
+ ...
Both, depending Jul 15, 2010

I love that word, "handedness"!

I'm left-handed for writing and right-handed for absolutely everything else (toothbrush, screwdriver, mosaic pliers, computer mouse, guitar...).

Interesting that many lefties were put under pressure to switch hands. At primary school in the UK in the early 70s, I was told to write with my right hand until my mum stepped in, guns blazing! Surely this isn't such common practice today?

Edited to add mouse!

[Edited at 2010-07-15 12:42 GMT]


Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
My experience Jul 15, 2010

It's entirely possible there is a connection. The left side of the brain is the language area. Left-brain dominant people tend to be right-handed but I am not. I write with my left hand but do nearly everything else with my right.

Left and right Jul 15, 2010

Obviously this question derived from that famous "left brain, right brain" theory, and I believe the theory holds some truth.
But life is far more complicated than a mere theory.

For that, we linguists must be talanted on something, which may or may not be related to "handedness".

As for me, my father was left hander, but strongly discouraged to express this characteristic he was born with. Because of him, I must have some left hander gene in me, which is manifested in my daughter. She is more comfortable doing things with left hand.

BTW, on this I cannot help but thinking of Leonardo da Vinci. We don't know his linguistic capacity, but how about his superb masterfulness in art and science works!? His writing was what we call "Mirror" letter.


Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 01:19
German to English
Dunno... Jul 15, 2010

I'm completely right-handed - my left hand is pretty much ornamentalicon_smile.gif. Obviously I use it in two-handed tasks (typing, driving, etc), but I *never* pick up anything with it, reach for anything with it, or use it for anything requiring just one hand (brushing teeth, stirring food, using any kind of tool).

Interesting poll! I'd like to see one asking whether Proz members are *naturally* left-handed or right-handed.


Yvonne Becker  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same here Jul 15, 2010

Teresa Borges wrote:

I love maths and languages and I am right-handed!

Same here. Math, Chemistry, Biology and Languages were always my stongest subjects


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Poll: Do you think handedness is related to language skills?

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