Monday, November 4, 2013

Rigth* (for Right*)

Rigth... Does that look right to you? And did you know that if you don't look right ahead, you might get left behind? I suspect I might be ever so slightly right-left dyslexic, but in any event, I've been known to display the annoying habit of saying to the person who's driving, "Turn right here!" while pointing left. When it comes to politics, many people think it's better to be on the left than the right, but in most other respects, right makes might. A mere ten percent of the population is left-handed, for example, which can make handling things for a southpaw a little bit tricky, or even costly if you have to buy special tools, appliances, etc. And then there's the way the language looks at it: positive-sounding words like adroit and dextrous come from the Latin for "right," whereas negative-sounding words like gauche and sinister derive from the French and Latin for "left." Right also evolved from the Old English word riht, and left from luft. We have unflattering phrases like "left-handed compliment," "two left feet," and "out in left field"—but with a name like right, it's assumed you probably are. There were 11 cases of right spelled wrong in OhioLINK today, and 859 in WorldCat.

(Right and Left, by Winslow Homer, 1909, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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