Poll: Handedness and language skills may be connected. Which is your dominant hand?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 01:44
SITE STAFF
Sep 26, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Handedness and language skills may be connected. Which is your dominant hand?".

This poll was originally submitted by Christine Andersen. View the poll results »



 

Teresa Cavalla  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:44
Member (2014)
English to Italian
According to the physiologist Paul Broca Sep 26, 2015

According to the physiologist Paul Broca, right hand dominance is related to brain left hemisphere dominance. The left hemisphere has a functional specialisation in the processing of speech production, language comprehension, mathematics, analysis and logical connections. On the other side, the right hemisphere, connected with the left hand dominance, is specialised in all the processes involving emotion, space, art, sense perception. …So, at least in theory, no surprise about a right hand dominance among translators!

 

Harry Blake Paz Bonzano  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:44
Member (2014)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
. Sep 26, 2015

I guess I chose the wrong job since I am left-handedicon_smile.gif

 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:44
French to English
Manual prevalence and language Sep 26, 2015

Language and the brain is one of the most richly researched areas of neuropsychology.
There is a fair amount of consensus on a number of matters relating to how language functions in the brain. However, there is much less consensus among researchers on how manual prevalence is established.
There is evidence that influences are multiple and include the environment (by which I mean social, relational factors), pre-, peri- and post natal. Cultural factors also come into play. Others fields of research have demonstrated developmental hypotheses and pointed to genetic factors.

As for the connection between manual prevalence and language skills, then it is a little more complicated than the left hemisphere being the seat of language ability. "Wada's test" (1949) showed that Broca's rule was not quite so clear cut as it might seem at first sight. Generally, 95% of right-handed people are effectively left-hemisphere dominant, 5% right-hemisphere. But the affair becomes a little more complicated when you look at left-handed people. Language is generally in the left-hemisphere of onyly 70% of left-handed individuals, with 15% of left-handed people having language in the right hemisphere. And if you're following this closely, then you are wondering about the remaining 15% of heft-handers? Well, they are bilateral in terms of language. Broca's rule is a little challenged by these findings as it clearly shows that the right hemisphere also has language capacities.

Classically hemispheric specialisation is considered as a function of the stimulus. This is an unsatisfactory solution however, as it does not explain why. There is in fact increasing evidence to suggest that it is rather the nature of the operation which is more important. (When you think about it, this is not entirely incompatible with Broca's rule). The neurons in the left and the righ hemispheres are of the same type. There is no purely structural difference; the differences lie in how they connexions are organised in functional terms. How do we know this? If you want to read further, check out McGill for example and read up on interhemispheric specialisation, disconnexion and split-brain.

Others factors to be taken into account are what is meant by language?
- Seeing words and letters requires vision : left hemisphere
- Hearing words requires audition : left-hemisphere (language sounds), right-hemisphere (non language sounds)
- Touch : right hemisphere (tactile patterns, braille)
- Memory : left-hemisphere (verbal, semantic), right hemisphere (perception, non-verbal)
- Language : left-hemisphere (spoken word, reading, writing, arithmetic), right (emotional content)

Etc.

Considering that "language" comprises so many of these elements, one without the other makes it clear that is is more complex than it might appear at first sight. And linking it to manual prevalence is fun, but forcibly more complicated again, as that field of research has not established nearly as much consensual info as there is about language. They may be linked, they may not. One way or the other, it is likely to be a matter of generalities with a number of exceptions, which may be quite significant in number.

[Edited at 2015-09-26 14:31 GMT]


 

Phoebe Indetzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:44
German to English
+ ...
10% Sep 26, 2015

Considering roughly 10% of the world population is left-handed, and roughly 10% of all respondents here so far are also left-handed, this would suggest there is no particular connection between handedness and language skills – or at least, between handedness and becoming a translator...

 

Natalia Pedrosa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:44
Member (2012)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I'm ambidextrous Sep 26, 2015

I only eat and write with my right hand, all the rest (ehem...) I do with my left hand.

But language has been my passion since my early age when I still did everything with my right hand.

It is more and more that I am becoming left-handed, I may end up eating and writing with my left hand, who knows...


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:44
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Ambidextrous Sep 26, 2015

Natalia Pedrosa wrote:

I only eat and write with my right hand, all the rest (ehem...) I do with my left hand.



I'm the exact opposite. I only eat and write with my left hand, and everything else with the right hand. I think I have more dexterity with the left hand, and more strength with the right hand. Yet, when I'm working with tools, for example, I switch hands and continue the job regularly when either hand gets tired.

For a long time, left-handed people were forced to become right-handed, even with violence, because people believed being left-handed was a devil thing. Thankfully, I didn't fall into one of those families. Now we don't see that anymore, and left-handers are as common as right-handers.

Now, associating translation (or any other) hability to this characteristic is absolute nonsense. Proficiency, competence, skilfulness, inteligence, etc. result from many factors, but certainly not from what hand you use most, PLEASE!



[Edited at 2015-09-26 14:24 GMT]


 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'm not ambidextrous Sep 26, 2015

I write and eat with my right hand, but am able to use my left just as efficiently in most cases, especially when working with my power and hand tools.

This was something I had to learn. I broke my left collarbone about ten years ago and my arm was left in a brace and sling for 6 months (I did a really good job breaking it). That's when I started physical therapy to get my arm back to where it was and when I started to practice very fine motor skills with my less dominant hand.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:44
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
same as Triston! Sep 26, 2015

except I broke my arm when I was 7. I just stepped off the swing (not moving) and landed funny, and had my arm in plaster for what seemed like ages. I was so bored I went to school anyway and made myself write with my left hand.

 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 03:44
German to English
+ ...
missing bits in the question Sep 26, 2015

The concept being explored is whether left handedness and being skilled in language are related, and then a group of translators is being asked about their dominant hands. But translation is not just about strong abilities in language. It also involves logical, linear, or systematic thinking, which is associated with right handedness.

In high school one year I signed up for an experimental creative writing class. Participants would sit in the classroom and write for 45 minutes each day - that was it. It attracted a certain kind of mindset. One day we were asked to raise our hands if we were left handed. Something like 20 out of 25 students were left handed: language oriented plus creativity oriented.


 


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