Thursday, August 30, 2007

336 Reading from Right to Left!

Message no. 336 Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Monday, February 12, 2007 3:23pm Subject: Reading from Right to Left!

Who determines what is "right"? Did you know that the word for "right" comes from the German "recht" which doesn't mean right at all, but "straight"? Straight meant "correct" (from co-recht!) and it was assumed that things that were not bent or crooked or broken were good. So "right" started out as meaning "good". How then did it become associated with a direction?

Turns out the majority of human beings are "right handed" so they decided to make the dominant kind of person (who dominated all the others!) the "right" or "good" person. All others were "bad" or "evil". They were "SINISTER". Sinister comes from "sinestre" in Latin (Italian and Spanish too) and means "Left". Left handed people were generally creative types (using the right side of their brain, ironically, but nobody knew about cross wiring or hemispheres at the time!) and creative types threaten the dominant order. So creativity and left handed people were consider sinister or evil.

Similarly, if you don't fit in to the environment, we say you are "gauche" which means awkward, but comes from the french word "gauche" which means.... LEFT.

Why do we write from left to right (and why is the word "write" symphonic with "right"?) Originally, when we were chiseling our words into stone, right handed people held their hammers in their strong right hands and their chisels in their weak left ones. So chiselling letters was easier from right to left. The ancient cultures (Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic) simply adopted the stone tablet convention and wrote from right to left.

But when we started using ink to write with, and used short brushes or pens, the palm of our right hands would smear the ink writing from right to left, so later, younger cultures switched to writing from left to right (try it yourself and see!). Thus our physical environments, biological environments and the media we chose for expressing ourselves all affected the development of our behavior and culture.

In England, for example (as in Australia) cars drive on the left side of the road, and the drivers seat is on the right side of the vehicle. This makes sense if you want to control vehicles on narrow roads where a head on collision could kill you (you are closer to the center divider by sitting on the right side of the vehicle, so you can judge oncoming traffic easier, and it approaches you on the side of your "good" arm, or right hand, which assumedly has more control over the vehicle. This would be true when controlling the reigns of a horse drawn carriage and would then carry over to an automobile car.

When you travel the world you see many different ways that environments and behavior affect each other.

Since I am in a "backwards country" here in the Middle East (in many senses: underdeveloped, often plagued by a "backwards" mentality, and they write from right to left, so all the books ARE backward!) I have decided to read Chapter 14 into my computer. I then added a little music for spice, and broken it up into sections. Arabs always pick up books and open them from what we call " the back" first, so why not!

So, if you go to "Course Materials" and "Course Content" you will now see a bunch of .mp4 audio files. They are all here for you to download and listen to! Save them to your mp3 players and listen to them on the bus or in the car! Play them off of your computer and read along to help prevent fatigue and keep you focussed. Or use them to keep the fireplace going! Either way, you may find them an interesting extension of the usual study aide concept!

And by the way , as I've said previously, YOU DO NOT NEED TO READ THE TEXTBOOK IN ORDER OR DO THE ASSIGNMENTS IN ORDER! Try shaking up your world, turn your environment upside down. It will do you all some good. Try reading the book from the last chapter to the first. See how it feels! Go on, don't be afraid, listen to Chapter 14 this week and do that assignment instead of Chapter 3!! Give it a try!

Cheers, T.H. Culhane

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