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alt.lefthanders Frequently Asked Questions

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I Table of Contents
   Frequently Asked Questions
   Questions and Answers

II Welcome

Welcome to official Usenet Guide to Frequently Asked Questions for the
Left-Handed Population. It is posted periodically to the alt.lefthanders
newsgroup and the general newsgroups alt.answers and news.answers. It is
available via anonymous ftp from:

Also, you can find a URL version on the World Wide Web at:

III Introduction

There exists in the world a very special group of individuals who is left
handed. This group has had to spend its life conforming to a world that
was not designed for its benefit. In addition, this group has had to put
up with insults and derogatory comments aimed in its direction. The intent
of this document is to provide a source of information for the left-
handed population and to serve as a consciousness raising tool about
issues of special concern for lefties for the population in general. It
is sincerely hoped that it serves its goal.

IV Credits

This FAQ is maintained by Barry D. Benowitz (
All corrections, additions (including new questions) and suggestions
are welcome.

===== Copyright 1995 - 2000 by Barry D. Benowitz.  Use and
copying of this information are permitted as long as (1) no fees or
compensation are charged for use, copies or access to this
information, and (2) this copyright notice is included intact.  ====
[NOTE: this is information collected from many sources and while I
 strive to be accurate and complete, I cannot guarantee that I
have succeeded. ]

V Frequently Asked Questions

Q01. What does being left-handed mean? 
Q02. What does being ambidextrous mean? 
Q03. What percentage of the population is left handed? 
Q04. Is lefthandedness inherited? 
Q05. Are lefthanders naturally clumsy? 
Q06. Is there a quick test to determine eye dominance? 
Q07. Is there a quick test to determine handedness? 
Q08. What makes a cup right or left handed? 
Q09. What makes scissors right or left handed? 
Q10. What makes a bowling ball left or right-handed? 
Q11. What makes bowling shoes left or right-handed? 
Q12. Do Lefties have an advantage in Bowling? 
Q13. Do Lefties die younger than right-handers? 
Q14. Are Lefties brain damaged? 
Q15. Was famous left-hander Leonardo DaVinci Dyslexic? 
Q16. Do Lefties make better athletes? 
Q17. Do Lefties make inferior athletes? 
Q18. In baseball, what makes left-handed hitters so successful? 
Q19. In baseball, what makes left-handed pitchers so successful? 
Q20. In cricket, what makes left-armed Batsmen so successful? 
Q21. In cricket, what makes left-handed Bowlers so successful? 
Q22. In fencing (sword fighting), what makes left-handers successful? 
Q23. Is there a store catering to left-handers in my area? 
Q24. Where can I acquire left-handed guitars? 
Q25. Are there any publications for left handers? 
Q26. Are there any recommended books for left handers? 
Q27. What is brain dominance anyway? 
Q28. Why does women's clothing button the opposite way of mens (left vs. right)? 
Q29. Are there any left-hander advocacy organizations? 
Q30. Why is left handedness considered something sinister? 
Q31. Will you name some left-handed celebrities? 
Q32. When is International Left-handers Day? 
Q33. I'm rightie, my child's lefty. How can I teach him/her to tie shoe-laces? 
Q34. Where can I get a left-handed fountain pen? 
Q35. Where can I learn left-handed Calligraphy? 
Q36. Why do we wear our wedding bands on the third finger of the left hand? 
Q37. Where can I get a lefthanded joystick? 
Q38. Where can I get a Left Handed Computer Keyboard. 
Q39. Where can I get a left-handed mouse? 
Q40. Why are there more Lefthanded Males than Females? 
Q41. Do Lefthanders tend to have a specific blood type? 
Q42. What percentages of Lefthanders exist in different societies? 
Q43. Why do some lefthanders use Mirror script? 
Q44. Why do Lefthanders hold the paper differently when writing? 
Q45. Why are Lefthanders sometimes called Southpaws? 
Q46. Are there any organizations concerning golf and left-handers? 
Q47. Which sports banned left-handers? 
Q48. What are left-handed playing cards? 
Q49. Are there scholarships available for Left-handed people? 

 VI. Questions and answers. 

Q01. What does being left-handed mean? 
	A very good question. For the purposes of this document, being
    left-handed means having a preference for using your left hand for
  	a variety of tasks, including reaching, throwing, pointing, 
	catching. It also implies a preference for using your left foot
	for tasks such as kicking, as well as the preferred foot with
	which to begin walking, running and bicycling. However, there are 
	no hard and fast rules for determining which hand or foot the
	Lefthander prefers to use for a particular task. Most will prefer to
	use the left hand or foot for delicate work.

	One may also have a dominant left eye, preferring to use the left
	eye for telescopes, camera sights, and microscopes.

	In general, being left-handed means having a dominant right side
	of the brain.

	M.K. Holder <> clarifies that this dominance
    does not apply in the area of brain hemisphere specialization for
    language abilities: According to a neurological study published by
    Branch, Miller & Rasmussen in 1964 (Journal of Neurosurgery
    21:399-405) indicates that perhaps half of all left-handers
    have the same left-hemisphere specialization for language
    abilities as do right-handers. See: for more information.

Q02. What does being ambidextrous mean? 

	To be ambidextrous means to be equally dextrous with either hand.
	That is, the ability to use both hands with equal skill and coor-

Q03. What percentage of the population is left handed? 

	There have been many different numbers put forth, with the most
	common numbers we have seen being in the area of 13 percent. However,
	we have seen numbers as high as 30 percent, when you allow a 
	very loose definition of left-handedness.

Q04. Is lefthandedness inherited? 

	While lefthanders doubtless runs in some families, scientists
	are unsure that the issue is completely resolved. Part of the
	problem has to do whether a person's hand preference is the result
	of genetic determination or some other reason ie forced to switch
	because of convention, accident, what ever.

Q05. Are lefthanders naturally clumsy? 

	An emphatic NO to this. The problem most lefthanders have is that
	the world is configured for right handed people. Lefties, in the
	act of accommodating to this opposite world, may appear awkward
	using tools that have right hand preference designed into them.
	However, right-handers display even more awkwardness using left
	handed tools than lefthanders do using right handed tools. This
	is probably because righthanders are less used to adapting.

Q06. Is there a quick test to determine eye dominance? 

	Try the following to determine eye dominance. With both eyes
        open, line up the tip of your finger, at arm's length, with a
        distant object. Close each eye separately. The eye that results
        in the object and you finger remaining aligned is your dominant eye. 

Q07. Is there a quick test to determine handedness? 

	No, there is not. In fact, the only sure way to determine brain
	dominance is to anesthetize one half of the brain and then see
	what functions are still handled by the still functioning hemisphere.
	There have been interesting results obtained, such as people able
	to respond to visual cues but not verbal cues. I don't know about
	you, dear reader, but I am not willing to submit to this test just
	to definitively answer the question.

	However, you can try this: Sitting comfortably, fold your hands
	together and notice which thumb is on top. Lefties will have the
	right thumb on top.

	Readers should note that this test is not completely accurate. We
	have heard about a significant number of lefties on alt.lefthanders
    who fail this test. Readers should also note that hand preference
    is usually not evident until children are age 4-6. Some children have
    been known to exhibit a preference as early as age 2.

    According to J.B. Sattler ( Das linkshändige Kind in der
    Grundschule, page 17) a better test to determine which hand is
    dominant is to note which hand is usually/preferably used to... 
	 - be put up in school
	 - switch on/off lights 
	 - brush teeth 
	 - comb hair 
	 - hammer 
	 - water flowers 
	 - throw dice 
	 - pick up/count things 
     - open window/door 
	 - use a screwdriver 
	 - sew 
	 - throw a ball etc.  
     - draw ,paint, write

	Thanks: Inken B. Spreda <inken@wolnetdotde>

Q08. What makes a cup right or left handed? 

	First, you must realize that (drinking) cups come in two varieties:
	symmetric and not symmetric. Cups that are not symmetric may have
        a lip to ease pouring the contents. If this kind of cup is right
	handed, the lip will be on the side of the cup which is away from
	the body, which allows for a easy neat motion. If this cup is
	picked up with the left hand, the lip is toward the body, which
	makes it awkward and messy to pour.

	For symmetric cups, the problem is that when the decoration is only
	on one side. When the right handed individual picks up a right
	handed cup, he is able to see and enjoy the decoration. A leftie
	using that cup presents the decoration to the world; he is unable
	to see it.

	Lefties would benefit with symmetric cups with designs on both sides;
	cups with lips would have to be made in both right and left handed

Q09. What makes scissors right or left handed? 

       You can see the difference easily, by placing the scissors on
       the table like this:

      \  /
      O  O

      For right-hand scissors, the part of the scissors lying `on top' at
      the intersection of the two parts, will be the one from top-left
      to bottom-right, whereas for left-hand scissors, the uppermost will
      be the part from bottom-left to top-right. Turning the scissors around
      or up-side down won't change this relationship.

      Secondly the reason for this difference lies in the way the
      scissors are opened and closed by your left or right hand. When you
      close the scissors,  the cutting edges close and the cutting edges
      are pressed together because your fingers holding the scissors bend
      and your thumb stretches. If the cutting edges are pushed away from
      each other, the material being cut slides in between, and is definitely
      not cut. This is what happens when you use a  right-hand scissors
      with your left hand.

      Since your left hand is a mirrored version of your right hand,
      your scissors should be `mirrored' as well. This is why the cutting
      edges are made on the opposite side of each part, and the parts
      are assembled just the opposite way, giving you perfect left-handed

      Thanks to: Jurgen van Engelen <>  

Q10. What makes a bowling ball left or right-handed? 

 	Left-handed bowling balls are different in two respects.
	The first, and most obvious, is the placing of the finger holes
	in relation to the thumb hole.  What follows is the first (and
	last) square bowling ball you'll ever see <G>:

		0			0
		   0                 0
                 +                     +

	         0                     0

	The view is from the top and the spacing is highly exaggerated.
	Mark Hideo Fujimoto <> points out that
	while this configuration is true for a vast majority of people,
	one cannot say it is true in the general case.

	The ring finger is held behind the middle finger, as it is then
	the last thing to leave the ball - imparting spin.  Using a right-
	-handed ball, the middle finger, or the thumb, would be last. 
	Neither of these digits will impart any spin at all to the ball.
	Spin is important to make the ball curve, or hook, into the pins
	and the rotation of the ball stabilizes it as it drives through.

   	The second consideration, which I cannot draw (do I hear cheers?)
	is the location of the center weight with relationship to the spot
	where the holes are drilled.  The ball is drilled so that the weight 
	is slightly ahead of the thumb hole and to one side - left, for 
	left-handers.  This balancing weight provides extra momentum and
	spin to the ball.

	Mark Hideo Fujimoto <> disagrees:
	I have to disagree here, too.  The "center weight", or more correctly,
	the center of gravity of the weight block, is usually placed to the 
	*left*  of the (+) in my diagram for a left-handed ball. This is known
	as "positive weight", which combined with lift and spin imparted by the
	bowler, gives the ball a more pronounced hook than a ball without this
	type of weighting.  Once again, this isn't the only way to drill
	a bowling ball, but it is one that tends to be conducive to getting the
	ball reaction that produces more strikes.There will be times when other
	types of weighting will prove to be more beneficial than "positive"

   	Throwing the ball fairly normally for a beginner, one should
	ideally see some clockwise rotation as the ball tends to drift
	toward the center (a strike!).  Throwing a right-handed ball with
	your left hand places the weighting on the left side - meaning the
	ball will go straight, or even back up (a reverse curve).  This
	kind of delivery makes it almost impossible to get the ball to the
	center with force and momentum, unless you are a 300-pound gorilla.

	Mark Hideo Fujimoto <> clarifies:
	you don't have to be a "300lb gorilla" in order to overcome the effects
	of various ball weightings.  If a left-hander imparts a clockwise ro-
	tation to the ball, regardless of whether it's a right-handed or left-
	handed ball, the ball will hook from left to right.  The weights may
	alter the way the ball hooks (i.e., earlier, later, stronger, weaker.),
	but not the direction in which it hooks.  Many bowlers use "negative
	weight" (placing the weight block's CG closer to where the ball rolls)
	in order to reduce the amount of hook on lanes that promote hook (i.e.
	"dry" lanes, lanes with little oil on them).

  	 Most bowling establishments have a couple of left-handed balls
	for use.  These are usually in poor shape, but a lot better than
	trying a right-handed ball, for the reasons stated above.

  	 The good news is - a left-handed ball, drilled by a professional,
	costs EXACTLY the same as the right-handed one.  And, to spur your
	confidence, don't forget that the first man to earn a million dollars
	in bowling, Earl Anthony, is left-handed.

	Thanks to: Bob Snyder          <>
	           Mark Hideo Fujimoto <>

Q11. What makes bowling shoes left or right-handed? 

	Bowling shoes are "handed" by the type of sole that is on the sliding
	shoe. Since (most) left-handed bowlers slide with their right foot, the
	right shoe is soled with some type of leather or buckskin to aid in
	sliding.  The left shoe will usually be rubber-soled with a leather or
	a textured rubber toe piece. This toe piece is added for extra traction
	when "pushing off" on the next-to-last step.  Right-handed shoes are
	basically mirror images of the left-handed shoes.  Most bowling shoes
	come in this configuration; however, some manufacturers produce their
	low-end bowling shoes in ambidextrous versions -- both shoes have some
	type of sliding sole, so they can be used by either left or
	right-handers. House shoes are typically this way.

	Thanks to: Mark Hideo Fujimoto <>

Q12. Do Lefties have an advantage in Bowling? 

	While there is no consensus that such an advantage exists, 
	here's the debate in a BIG nutshell:

	The surface of a bowling lane is oiled for various reasons, one
	of which is to provide a "condition" on which to bowl.  Second
	only to a bowler's skill level, the manner in which lanes are
	oiled (called the "lane condition" or "oil pattern" or "shot") 
	greatly determines what type of bowler and his corresponding 
	style most often will prevail.

	Most of the time, the "shot" will be symmetric with respect to
	the middle of the lane lengthwise, i.e., the oil pattern from
	the 20th (middle) board out to each respective gutter will be 
	similar in a mirror-image fashion.  Thus it appears that being
	left-handed is of no advantage over being right-handed, and vice
	versa.  However, there are two things that create an eventual 
	disparity -- one, there are more right-handed bowlers (RHB) than
	left-handed bowlers (LHB) in most situations.  Two, the lane oil
	isn't static.  It migrates as bowling balls roll through it and
	gets deposited in new places on the lane before eventually get-
	ting carried off the lane.  These two factors are the basis for
	argument between RHB's and LHB's.

	RHB's argue that LHB's have an unfair advantage because:

	*Bowling is a sport of repetition and consistency, and when the 
	playing conditions remain stable, it is easier to maintain the 
	muscle memory in order to repeat motions.  Since there are fewer
	LHB's in general, the condition for them doesn't change as much
	or as dramatically as it does for the RHB.  Thus a RHB must con-
	stantly adjust to the changing conditions, thereby destroying
	any consistency he has tried to develop in earlier frames or

	LHB's counter with:

	*WHEN (more correctly is IF) the "shot" is tough (an oil pattern 
	that tend to make it difficult to get the ball to the pocket),
	LHB's get stuck with dealing with it for the duration of bowling;
	whereas RHB's on a tough shot have the greater numbers in which 
	a shot can be "broken down" into something more score-able.

	Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of respect.  Many RHB's don't
	respect LHB's because they feel that the accomplishments of a LHB
	are tainted because of the unfair advantage of easier, more consis-
	tent bowling conditions than what RHB's (often) get.  IMHO, it's a 
	valid point, although I don't feel that this is the case 100% of
	the time.  

	OTOH, LHB's can't argue the flip side because there is no equivalent.
	LHB's generally resort to defending themselves by asking things like
	"why do RHB's assume that when a LHB bowls well, it's because they
	have an easier "shot", and not because the LHB is talented or made good
	shots?", or "I can't help it that I'm left-handed, I don't oil the 
	lanes".  As you can probably figure out, this is a sore subject with
	many LHB's, as RHB's outnumber them and dare I say most RHB's have
	some sort of animosity or envy towards LHB's and their conditions.

	Thanks to: Mark Hideo Fujimoto <>

Q13. Do Lefties die younger than right-handers? 

	Stanley Coren, who is the author of "The Lefthander Syndrome" found
	statistical evidence of this, and didn't believe it for the longest
	time. However, he remains unable to disprove it. He was able to
	demonstrate a possible reason for this might be that a left hand
	startle reflex would be much more dangerous when driving a car
	on US or Canadian road since the car would end up pointing
	against traffic while a right hand startle reflex would simply
	cause the car to drive of the road.

	As a double check, Coren did find a statistical difference in
	left handed traffic fatalities in countries where they drive on
	the left, such as Great Britain or Australia.

Q14. Are Lefties brain damaged? 

Q15. Was famous left-hander Leonardo DaVinci Dyslexic? 

	The Dyslexics seem to think so. Having lived many centuries before the
    recognition and diagnosis of this condition, the evidence is necessarily
    circumstantial and speculative. It is safe to say that he did exhibit
	many traits of the classical Dyslexic, based upon his life's works and
    contemporaneous observations that were recorded. For more information,
    check out the following references:

	Thanks to: Laurence Welch <> 

Q16. Do Lefties make better athletes? 

Q17. Do Lefties make inferior athletes? 

Q18. In baseball, what makes left-handed hitters so successful? 

	This may not be a true statement, but here is a possible ex-

	A left-handed hitter faces the home plate from a different side.
	For a pitcher who is not yet used to pitching to lefties, His
	standard arsenal of pitches do not have the same affect. A  normal
	outside fast-ball to a right-hander becomes an inside fast-ball 
	to a leftie and the same is true for an inside fast-ball. Also,
	a curve ball curves out for a rightie would curve in for a lefty.

	The resulting confusion is what makes left-handers better at

	Edward Brekelbaum  ( adds:
	Also, batters in the right side of the plate (lefties), are about
	one step closer to first base (a righty must step over the plate to be
	where a lefty started).  This may not seem like a huge advantage, but
	how many times has a runner been out "By one step".

	John Mianowski <> points out that
	LH hitters are generally more successful against RH
	pitchers.  As noted, a RH pitcher's breaking balls (i.e. curves,
	sliders, cutters) will break in toward the hitter.  It's
	always easier to hit a ball that's breaking in on you than
	breaking away.  LH hitters are therefore perceived as being more
	successful than RH hitters because the great majority of
	pitchers are right-handed.

Q19. In baseball, what makes left-handed pitchers so successful? 

	There are three factors here. First, left-handed pitchers
	stand on the mound facing first base, making it much easier to
	spot base-stealing attempts, and to throw out the runner. Secondly,
	the throwing arm of a lefty pitcher is more hidden from view of a
	righty batter, making it difficult for the batter to gauge the pitch
	as it's being thrown. Finally, lefties naturally tend to throw the
	ball towards the left side of the plate (from the batter's
	perspective), placing the pitch inside for a righty batter (which is
	more difficult to hit).

	Ironically, the perceived success of LH pitchers is primarily
	due to their inherent advantages over the LH hitters that the
	other teams put in their lineups to hit off the RH pitchers!
	Often, managers will bring in a pitcher to face just one
        hitter (LH-on-LH or RH-on-RH matchup), because of which
        hitters are coming up soon, or even to try to force the
	opposing manager to pinch hit to get HIS favorable matchup (the
        hitting team gets to make the last change), but taking a good
	hitter out of the game to do it. 

	Thanks to: George Feil <>
               John Mianowski <>

Q20. In cricket, what makes left-armed Batsmen so successful? 

	Left-armed Batsmen enjoy the same advantages as left-handed
	hitters do in baseball.  See the answer regarding baseball
	hitters above. Note that many left-armed batsmen prefer
	to hit from the left side, for an unknown reason.

	Roy Lakin <> provides some additional 

    The rough patch formed by the right-arm pace bowlers is
    further away from the off side of a right-hand batsman than a
    left-hander; a (right-arm) bowler bowling over the wicket is
    closer to the stumps than one bowling round the wicket, and will
    therefore tend to run on to the pitch in the follow-through.

	Thanks to: Roy Lakin <> 

Q21. In cricket, what makes left-handed Bowlers so successful? 

    The success of the bowlers and batters is obvious and closely
	related to the similar success of the baseball players. When bowling
	against a left-handed batsman, especially if there is a right-handed
	batsman at the other end of the cricket pitch, it places the fielding
	side at a disadvantage when ever runs are made. The whole fielding
	side has to swap around to accommodate the left-hander. Similarly the
	left handed bowler, especially a spin bowler can cause havoc against
	the right-handed batsman because the ball will break opposite to a
	right-handed spinner. Also the left-handed spinner can pitch the ball
	into the rough patches on the pitch formed by the right handed pace
	bowlers on the opposite side of the wicket. This ensures an uneven or
	unpredictable bounce or movement of the ball.

	Roy Lakin <> adds that Bowlers generally
    bowl to a batsman's off side in order to provoke a catch in
    the slips, so the left-hander will suffer from pitches in the
    rough more than would a right-hander, who would often leave
    wides or near-wides alone.

	Thanks: David Wiles <>
            Roy Lakin <>

Q22. In fencing (sword fighting), what makes left-handers successful? 

	Fencing is a sport where the very best practitioners don't think,
	but react. This requires practice, practice, practice in order to 
	develop an instinctual approach. The scarcity of left-handers means
	that right-handers don't get a chance to practice (usually) and fail 
	to develop that edge. Conversely, left-handers practice against right-
	handers frequently which give them more chances to develop a high skill

    Malcolm Glennie Holmes <>

Q23. Is there a store catering to left-handers in my area? 

	We have heard of the following places, but since we have not been
	able to try them, the following list does not constitute a recom-
	mendation. They are listed in no particular order:

				Left Hand World, Inc.
					Pier 39
				San Francisco, California
				Phone: (415)433-3547

		     The Left Hand Supply Company
			    P.O. BOX 20188
			  OAKLAND, CA  94620

		      Anything Left Handed Ltd.
			   57 Brewer Street
			       W1R 3FB.
			 Tel: 0171 437 3910.

			PO Box 1056
			Berskhire GU47 0ZW
			Tel 07044 700 818
			Fax 0870 133 0654

		 Cl Bolonia, 10 (Esq. Cte. Sta. Pau)
			   50008 - Zaragoza
			  Tel : 976 22 63 80
			  Fax : 976 22 63 80
		     E-mail :
		  Contact : Jesus Capapey, Ana Lombo

		       Copernico 85 (Tienda 2)
			   08006 Barcelona
			 Tel/Fax: *-34-(9)3-201.93.92
			 email: (English) (Castellano)

              Left Handed Products
              29a Playfair St
              The Rocks
              Sydney NSW 2000
              phone :02 9247 6374

				On the Other Hand
				6907 Woodtrail Ct.
				Fort Wayne, Indiana 46835
				phone: (219) 486-2702
				fax:   (219) 486-7428

				The left gender corporation
				d/b/a A diestra & siniestra,
				la tienda de los zurdos
				Local 5D Pueblo Xtra Building Plaza Carolina
				Fragoso Ave., Corner Pueblo Xtra
				Carolina, Puerto Rico, USA  00983
				Tel:  (787) 750-9098
				Fax: (787) 750-9168
				Email: or
				Toll free:  1-888-Excite2, extension 787 750 9098

	Also, an extensive list of shops in Germany, Swiss and Austria (in
    German language) can be found on "Die deutsche Linkshänderseite:

Q24. Where can I acquire left-handed guitars? 

	We have heard of the following places, but since we have not been
	able to try them, the following list does not constitute a recom-
	mendation. They are listed in no particular order:

			   Route 66 Guitars
		       3579 E. Foothill Blvd., #321
		       Pasadena, California  91107
			 tel: (213) GUI TARS
	Vintage, Used & New Left and Right Handed Instruments
		      Vintage Amps & Accessories
	       Lists available via US Mail, FAX & eMail

				Southpaw Guitars of Texas
				5813 Bellaire Blvd.
				Houston, TX 77081
				(713) 667-5791

Q25. Are there any publications for left handers? 

	There are several. One is called Lefthander Magazine and it is
    published six times a year by Lefthanders International. It is
    written in English so that the words appear left to right, but the
    columns are presented right to left and the pages are numbered
    right to left. Its a little disconcerting at first, but Lefties
    will soon get used to it.

	It contains articles about lefties of note, plus many helpful hints
	for leftie adaption problems. It contains advertising for some
	catalog items plus other products of interest to lefthanders.

	It is available only to members of Lefthanders International, but
	there is no additional charge to receive the magazine.

	Left Hand Corner -Infos, Bilder, Texte, Songs für Links- und Rechtshänder-
    The only German magazine for left-handers. It is published 4 times
    per year, DM 4 per copy.  Order: 
		Norbert Martin 
		Left Hand Corner
        Platzhoffstr. 13, D-42115 Wuppertal
        Tel/Fax 0202-305156.  Info:

	The Left-handers Club:
	 Anything Lefthanded Ltd.
	 18 Avenue Road
	 Belmont, Surrey SM2 6JD, England
	 They publish a magazine "The Left-Lefthander", which is published
     quarterly and costs £2,50 per copy.

Q26. Are there any recommended books for left handers? 

	Unicorns Are Real, by Barbara Meister Vitale
        Warner Books ISBN 0-446-32340-4

	The Lefthander Syndrome, by Stanley Coren PhD

	The Natural Superiority of the Left-Hander, by James T. deKay

	The Left-Handed Book, by James T. deKay

        Left-Handed in a Right-Handed World, by Jeff Goldsmith

        The Left Handers Guide to Life, by Leigh Rutledge and Richard Donley
        ISBN: 0-452-26845-1

	Germar Saule tells us of the following German language books, he is
        not aware of any translations into other languages:

	Linkshaendig? Ein Ratgeber (Lefthanded? An adviser)
	HRSG: Rolf W. Meyer, Fachliche Beratung,
      	Dr. Johanna Barbara Sattler,ONRS;
	1991;Humboldt-Taschenbuchverlag Jacobi KG, Muenchen;
	ISBN 3-581-66669-3;

	Das linkshaendige Kind in der Grundschule
	(The lefthanded child in the primary school)
	HRSG: Dr.Johanna Barbara Sattler/ Staatsinstitut fuer Schulpaedagogik
      	und Bildungsforschung, Muenchen;
	1993; L. Auer-Verlag; Donauwoerth;
	ISBN: 3-403-02532-2; 4.Aufl. 1994;

	Der umgeschulte Linkshaender oder Der Knoten im Gehirn
	(The "translearned"(learned from left to right) lefthander
	 or The knot in the brain)
	HRSG: Dr. Johanna Barbara Sattler
	1995; L. Auer-Verlag; Donauwoerth;

	Linkshaender sind bessere Menschen
	(lefthanders are better humans)
	HRSG: Nora Babel;
	1992; Eichborn Verlag; Frankfurt am Main;
	ISBN 3-8218-2283-X;

	Das Linkshaenderbuch
	(The lefthander-book)
	HRSG: Diane Paul
	1990; Bloomsbury, London;
	Uebersetzung: 1994 Droemersche Verlagsanstalt Th. Knaur Nachf.,
        ISBN 3-426-84037-5;

	Alles mit der linken Hand (Geschick und Geschichte einer Begabung) 
	All with the left hand (skill and history of a talent)
	HRSG: Rik Smits
	1994; Rowohlt 
	ISBN 3-87134-096-0

	Selim oder Die Gabe der Rede
	(Selim or The gift of the speech)
	HRSG: Sten Nadolny
	1990, R. Piper GmbH&Co.KG, Muenchen;
	ISBN: 3-492-02978-7;

	Geni Cabre <> recommends the following book (in Spanish):

	El Nino Zurdo by Dr. Cesar Cabre and Elicia Rios

	Thanks: <Germar Saule> 

Q27. What is brain dominance anyway? 

	The term "brain dominance" was historically used by neurologists to 
	describe which side of the brain (which cerebral hemisphere)
        played the greatest role in human speech & language.  Neurologists
        currently prefer the term hemispheric "specialization" to describe
        how one side of the brain's neural function is specialized for a
        particular function, usually language ability.  But even language
        tasks occur in both hemispheres, so this description is simplistic. 

	Thanks: <M.K.Holder>
	See: "What does Handedness have to do with Brain Lateralization?"

Q28. Why does women's clothing button the opposite way of mens (left vs. right)? 

	This goes back to the Victorian age. It seems that a proper gentleman
	would dress himself while a proper lady would require the services
	of a dresser. In order for the motion of securing a button to be the 
	same, and to account for the fact that the clothing of a man would
	be fastened from behind while the clothing of a woman would be 
	fastened while facing the clothing, the buttons on men's clothing
	would have to be opposite of women's.

Q29. Are there any left-hander advocacy organizations? 

	The one we have heard about (and of which we are a member) is 
	Lefthanders International. They are located in Topeka, Kansas
	and can be reached at the following address:

			Lefthanders, International
			P.O Box 8249
			Topeka, Kansas 66608

	The local telephone number is: 1-785-234-2177.

	Annual dues run about US$15.

	There is an organization available in Germany. They can be reached
	at the following address:

			      ONRS e.V.
			  Sendlinger Str 18
			     80331 Munich

Q30. Why is left handedness considered something sinister? 

       First, let me say that the Latin word for left is sinister. The 
       connection between the the English word and the Latin word are
       obvious, but this reasoning breaks down when other languages are
       examined. Raymond <> tells the following
       story:  Roman priests/fortune-tellers used to point a square wooden
       frame towards the sky and thus watch birds fly by. If the birds came
       from the left (sinister),it meant trouble (sinister).If they came from
       the right (latin dexter if I remember well),everything was OK.

       Raymond <> also tells me that the French word
       "sinistre" means sinister with the obvious Latin root. Also, someone
       who is considered not skillful is called "gauche" (left) in French.

       Rob Jordan <> offers this explanation.  It
       also has to do with shaking hands.  It seems that one explanation
       for the origin of shaking hands (according to a Latin teacher at the
       high school I went to) is that people would shake hands on meeting
       to show that they didn't have a dagger (or similar weapon) in their
       (right) hand so they couldn't stab you right off as they met you.
       However if you were left handed, you could shake someone's hand
       (with your right hand) and still be able to effectively use your
       left hand to stab someone. Therefore left-handed people were considered
       potentially more dangerous and "sinister".

       Erica <> tells me that in Hebrew, "Yemin" is 
       right and "Smoll" is left. A right-handed person is
       referred to as "yemani," which means "right-handed;" a left-handed
       person, on the other hand (no pun intended. Well, ok, maybe it 
       intentional), is referred to as "Eetair yad Yemino" or "Eetair" for 
       short, which means, in essence, a person who is not right-handed.
       (Connotation: a shortcoming).

       Balthasar <> tells me that in german you call
       someone 'linkisch' (meaning 'leftish') if he/she is either weird,
       strange or even mean in an antisocial sense.
       Wei-Hwa Huang <> responds that a bit of
       research on Chinese etymology has turned up some interesting
       facts.  The Chinese word for "left," when traced back to
       ancient pictograms, is a drawing of a hand with a drawing that
       means "work."  The idea apparently was that the left hand did
       work by helping the right hand. Bruce Balden
       <balden@wimsey.comd> points out that the symbol "gong1" means
       work because it looks like a carpenter's set square, which
       would be held in the left hand (of a right handed person) while
       the other hand draws or saws.

	   Wei-Hwa resumes: On the other hand (pun intended), the
       character for "right" was a picture of a hand next to a mouth,
       indicating that the ancient Chinese probably used the right hand to eat.

       Now an interesting fact emerges.  Although there are many more words
       derived from a hand on the right side than there are words on the left
       (i.e., whenever a new word was formed and it needed a hand, it was
       invariably on the right side), at some point all the "right-handed"
       words were flipped to their mirror image!  This happened sometime in
       the last 2000 years, and now all words that are "hand"-derived have
       the hand on the left side.  (For etymology buffs, these characters are
       not to be confused with the ones with the actual "hand" radical, which
       went a different route.) It is an interesting fact to note that since
       Chinese writing proceeds top to bottom, then right to left, that
       left-handed writing may actually be easier.  (Virtually all Chinese
       writers are taught to write with the right hand only, though...
       traditional Chinese calligraphy is done without the hand touching the

       Paul Batey <> tells us that an ancient 
       Romany Gypsy word for left is bongo, which means evil.

       Feico Nater <> provide these insights:

       In Dutch, Recht means right, straight, privilege (as in human rights),
       Link means left, stupid, awkward, but also keen, skilled. Een linke
       jongen means a skilled criminal, a bad criminal, or a keen man.

       Edward A. Spaans <> offers the following idiom:

       De linker, de flinker
       De rechter, de slechter

      In Dutch, the 'er' as in linker, flinker, rechter, slechter' is the
      superlative.  The meaning of 'slecht' is bad, criminal. The words
      'link' and 'recht' are assigned a quantitative content here, which
      makes strict translation a bit difficult. The idiom could be roughly
      translated as:

      The more (to the, or possessing of) left, the better,
      The more (to the, or possessing of) right, the worse

	  Paddy O'Neill <> reports that the Gaelic
      (Irish) word for lefthanded is "Ciotach". It has two meanings as

	  1) lefthanded
      2) Awkward or difficult

	 Chris Owen <> reports that in Welsh
     (Cymraeg), the word for left is 'chwith', which also means

	 According to  Simone Cortesi <>, In Italian, the word 
	 for clumsy is "maldestro", the word for training is "addestrare", an
	 evil face is a "faccia sinistra", and according to your insurance
	 company a car crash is a "sinistro".

	 According to Barbara Kaye <>, the Greek
	 word for Left is aristera, which is the root of aristocrat.

     Please respond to the FAQ maintainer a similar analysis
     of the same words in your favorite language (pro or con) for
     inclusion in this section.

     Second, we are able to trace this link back to the Middle Ages and
     the Renaissance. In the great religious art of the period, it was
     common for the "good" guys to be portrayed as being right-handed while
     satanic characters to be portrayed left-handed as sort of an
     antithesis to the good. It is interesting to note that Leonardo
     a Vinci painted "good" images like Jesus and  Mary to appear left
     handed, but Da Vinci is a fabled Lefthander.

     There are examples of people appearing to
     be left-handed in earlier art, but these are not considered to be
     symbolic of anything. Later on, handedness was considered an important
     test to determine if a person was a witch or war-lock theoretically
     because of the link to Satanism.

     You would think that in the twenty-first century, this sort of thinking
     would be non-existent, but even today some people have a hard time
     with left-handers.

Q31. Will you name some left-handed celebrities? 

      A list of more than 500 well-known left-handed people from
      around the world is maintained by Mauri Haikola
      <> and it can be found at

      Some familiar names from the list are Bill Clinton, George Bush,
      Ronald Reagan, Pablo Picasso, Fred Astaire, Charles Chaplin,
      Greta Garbo, and Marilyn Monroe . Check it out.

	  In addition, MK Holder <> maintains a similar 
      list called FAMOUS LEFT-HANDERS at

	  This one is translated into French an Spanish as well.

Q32. When is International Left-handers Day? 

	According to Left-handers International, August 13th has been
 	designated as International Left-handers Day.

Q33. I'm rightie, my child's lefty. How can I teach him/her to tie shoe-laces? 

	Try this. In order to have the child see the hand movements in the
	proper direction, sit opposite the child rather than next to him or
	behind him. This will probably work for tying a necktie as well. I
	am also told that it applies to teaching knitting as well.

Q34. Where can I get a left-handed fountain pen? 

	 Parker still offers this service by mail order. You can opt for
	 needle point which is so sharp that it has no bias.

	Platinum Fountain Pen sets are available for left-handed people. Sets
	include nibs, barrel, cartridges and converter. John Neal, Bookseller
       (a mail order company specializing in calligraphy books and supplies)
        stocks these sets. They also provide left-handed grinding which 
        converts right-handed nibs into ones suitable for left-handed use
        and can special order other left-handed materials.

        In addition to the fountain pens they carry left-handed nibs(dip pens).
	John Neal, Bookseller can be reached at: or Toll-free at 1-800-369-9598.

	Note: Appearance here does not constitute a recommendation.

	Thanks: Gerald McMullon <>

Q35. Where can I learn left-handed Calligraphy? 

	We have heard of the following  books:

          "Insights into Left-Handed Calligraphy" by Betsy Rivers-Kennedy 1984.
       	  "Pen Lettering" by Ann Camp
           the Speedball manual that comes with their pens
           AND "Left Handed Calligraphy"...

	Bella <> recommends the following book:
	"Mastering Calligraphy" by Timothy Noad, published by Simon &
	Schuster 1995. It contains chapters on the origins and development of
	calligraphy, materials and techniques, A-Z step by step and
	projects. For the first time this calligraphy a book also provides
	special notes and diagrams for left-handed calligraphers for every
	stage alongside information for right-handers, by the famous
	left-handed calligrapher Gaynor Goffe.

	K <> makes the following suggestion:

	If you would like to take a class ask the teacher whether he/she has 
	taught lefties before. They will either tell you it can't be done, be 
	willing to work with you or have already taught "one of us."

	Thanks: Isabella V. Chang Fong <> 
                K <>

Q36. Why do we wear our wedding bands on the third finger of the left hand? 

	The custom dates back to the early Egyptian belief that the vena amoris
	(vein of love) ran directly from the heart to the third finger of 
        the left hand.

	Thanks to  Erica Hamel <>

Q37. Where can I get a lefthanded joystick? 

	While you should note that real commercial and military pilots
	fly according to where they sit in the cockpit and thus must be
	able to fly equally well with either hand, this question
	is asked very frequently.

	According to a Usenet Survey, It is downright impossible to have
	a true lefthanded joystick. There are several ambidextrous ones
	that people use, with the consensus being that the products by
	a company called CH were the best. The complete list follows in
	no particular order:

	CH Flightstick Pro
	CH Flightstick
	Suncom 2000
	TM Action Controller XL
	Kraft Thunderstick
	Gravis GamePad (has a switch)

	Quickshot claims to have a model called GenX 500L which has a
    left-handed handle.

	Note that this does not represent a recommendation.

Q38. Where can I get a Left Handed Computer Keyboard. 

 	Peter Wood <> tells us that he has
	had good success using inexpensive peripheral equipment, since
	its not designed in a way that would make it uncomfortable for
	left-handers to use (or for right-handers) but avoids the
	re-learning process. He thinks that left-handed adaption
	skills are sufficient as long as the device doesn't exhibit a
	a strong bias.

Q39. Where can I get a left-handed mouse? 

    Logitech used to supply left handed versions, but have
    discontinued these. Symmetrical versions became rarer in the mid
    1990s but saw a revival in 1999/2000 with more models released by
    Logitech, Kensington and even Microsoft.

	The mouse supplied with Wacom Intuos graphics tablets (140GBP for
	A6, 289GBP for A4) can be tilted to the left or right, exposing a
	thumb wheel on the right ot left side. This is otherwise a
	symmetric mouse.  Using the graphics tablet does not exclude the
	use of the standard mouse. You can use the pen with the left hand,
	standard mouse with the right and swap the pen for the Wacom
	mouse.  The buttons on the two devices are tied. So you can't have
	one as a left-hander and the other as a right-hander.

	The inexpensive Wacom Graphire (65GBP) is an A6 device (serial or
	USB) supplied with a pen and symmetrical wheel
	mouse. Unfortunately the A6 active area of the tablet is smaller
	than a typical mouse mat and may not suit all users.

	The correct use of the mouse or pointing device can reduce the
	chance of repetitive strain injury. Using a handed mouse with the
	wrong hand (e.g. the Intelligent Mouse from Microsoft or the top
	model cordless mouse from either Microsoft or Logitech both of
	which are right-handers) will result in cramp in the fingers and
	ball of the hand. For light users of computers this may take some
	years to develop. For heavy users of mouse movement this can be
	observed with in a few months.

	A mouse that is symmetrical in shape, but has an indent for the
	index finger of the right hand will often be used left-handed and
	the middle-finger used for clicking. If the twisted position is
	adopted to use the index finger of the left hand to operate the
	left button will cause unnecessary strain on the position of the
	hand. Unfortunately learned habits are often difficult to unlearn,
	even if comfort is at stake. I have successfully convinced several
	users that a change in mouse and/or keyboard will reduce the
	feeling of cramp and strain that they complain about.

	The relative size of the mouse to the hand may also play a
	significant factor. E.g. using the symmetrical mini-mouse on a
	laptop feels less comfortable than the cordless pilot mouse that
	has the roughly the same shape but means that the index finger is
	more relaxed and better supported, but in the hands of my
	four-year old daughter the smaller mouse 'fits' and for her is
	easier control.  A tracker ball may be better for smaller and
	younger hand, but experimenting can be difficult and expensive (if
	you have to buy the device to try).

	Most users are not trained in the correct mouse/keyboard skills
	and even if they are they may forget and revert to
	'bad-habits'. Many organizations supply a standard desktop and
	need to be persuaded to allow for an alternative mouse, keyboard
	(e.g. the natural keyboards from Microsoft and Logitech or a
	keyboard with the numeric keypad on the left) and drivers. With a
	good mouse and keyboard costing less than 60USD/40GBP (25+25) it
	is not unreasonable for the employer to supply these, otherwise
	buy your own for work.

	Not all left handers use the mouse left handed. Many like typing
	or writing left handed using the right hand to always hold the

	Positioning of the mouse and keyboard and monitor are very
	important.  Users should be encouraged to experiment as desk
	surface, lighting and handedness (mouse space on the left or
	right) are vital to comfort and efficiency. If this means
	re-wiring mains and network cables prove your case and make sure
	it is done.

	The keyboard should be place in the middle and sufficiently far
	away from the edge of the desk so that the palms of the hands are
	not rubbed against the edge of the desk. The monitor should be 30
	cm (12 inches) away for small screens and over 50cm (20 inches)
	away for larger screens.  Monitors on extension arms increase the
	choice of position both away from you and height above the desk.

	Desks that allow for different height adjustments also help.
	Unfortunately the extension arms for large monitors (20 inches and
	above) normally use a support leg as well as being attached to the
	desk. This precludes the active use of an adjustable desk and may
	restrict the desk to a 'standard' height.

	Feet should be capable of being position flat with the top of the
	leg horizontal. Likewise arms should be positioned so that the
	lower arm is horizontal and at the height of the desk.

	Mouse mats with wrist support are worth considering as are mouse
	rugs (, 25USD, 15GBP). Mouse rugs, besides being
	miniature rugs and looking cool are anti-static, allow easy
	movement and reduce, if not eliminate ball clogging. Many mouse
	mats have a hard surface, which give positive ball contact but
	have a sharp edge that rubs against the palm of the hand.

	Look for mouse alternatives, such as the Glidepoint or tracker
	balls.  But where ever possible try before buying and make sure
	that the drivers for the operating system(s) that you use are
	available or the 'standard' MS software (Win3, Win95, NT, 2000)
	etc will work.  Finger pads may appear to be without bias but even
	here the position of the cable or left of center give a bias to
	right-handers. Finger pads are not to everyone's taste and some
	users complain of numbed index fingers from 'clicking' the pad's
	surface. Pens can sometimes be used with these devices,
	particularly the larger ones. However 'natural' and unbiased a pen
	is it has to be picked up and dropped for keyboard use. A mouse or
	tracker ball is easier to grab and disgard than a pen.

     Swap the buttons to use the left index finger with the right  
     button. This confuses the hell out of right handers so much that I  
     have seen fared tempers at not being able to use it even when  
     explaining to them that the reason that the mouse was on the left  
     was because you are left handed.

	Using Windows 98 family login you can give separate perferences
	for each member of the family, including desktop, backgrounds,
	menus and mouse use. Passwords are not needed and when booted the
	user is presented with a list of names to select from. Even a
	three year old can recognise their own name when on screen and can
	'log' themselves in.

     Thanks: Gerald McMullon <>

     We have recently heard of the following source for a left-handed mouse:

     The Contour Mouse for left-handed users can be ordered directly
			    Contour Design
		    254B North Broadway, Suite 204
			   Salem, NH 03079 USA
			phone 1-800-462-6678
			phone: (603) 893-4556
			fax:   (603) 893-4558
	   World Wide Web site (

     Listing here does not constitute a recommendation.

Q40. Why are there more Lefthanded Males than Females? 

       Recent research has looked at the amount of Testosterone
       present in the fetus and amniotic fluid during
       pregnancy. Scientists have speculated that an excessive level
       of testosterone slows the development of the left side of the
       brain, which allows the right side of the brain to achieve and
       maintain dominance.

       Adult females normally produce a small amount of testosterone
       which will find its way into the amniotic fluid during
       pregnancy. A male fetus produces some testosterone in the
       uterus during development while a female fetus will produce no
       testosterone. Therefore, the chances of testosterone
       reaching excessive levels are much higher in a male fetus than
       in a female fetus simply because the normal levels of
       testosterone for a male fetus are higher in the first place.

       Males are about one and one half times more likely to be
       lefthanded than are females.

     Thanks: Gerald McMullon <>

Q41. Do Lefthanders tend to have a specific blood type? 

      Some one in Cambridge questioned all blood donors about their
      background. Looking at the couple of hundred forms the distribution
      for the A, AB and O groups looked the same in the LH group as in
      the RH group.

      Thanks: Gerald McMullon <>

Q42. What percentages of Lefthanders exist in different societies? 

     Middle class western (white) society is more tolerant of LH than
     some cultures. In many cultures eating with the left hand is an  
     insult to the host. This is so strong that even those educated
     and living in the west does not adjust this view point. [
     possibly related to hygiene - which hand is used for toiletry etc].
     Thanks: Gerald McMullon <>

Q43. Why do some lefthanders use Mirror script? 

     Da Vinci and others  often write right to left and in mirror  
     script. They feel that the writing is more fluid this way.

Q44. Why do Lefthanders hold the paper differently when writing? 

     Lefthanders turn the paper in order to more completely mimic
     the right hand style.  Included in this method is using  the twisted
     hand over the top of the line of writing method adopted by some
     left handers.
     With the advent of the biro some left handers push the nib in front  
     of the hand movement. Others hold their arm at right angles to the  
     line of writing and so don't cover up the writing or twist the arm  
     over the top. Various forms of positioning the writing pad at right  
     angles to the line of the desk or inclined at 60% are also used.

     Young left-handers should be encouraged to try all these styles to  
     find the best fit for themselves.

Q45. Why are Lefthanders sometimes called Southpaws? 

     This is a baseball term. It seems that on many (most) baseball diamonds
     the left hand side of the pitchers mound would face south.At one
     time, most ball-parks were constructed so that the setting sun was
     behind the batter so as not to be in his eyes.  The LH pitcher's
     throwing arm would then be toward the South as he faced the plate.
     With larger grandstands in modern stadia (not to mention indoor
    baseball) this is less of a concern than it once was.

     Thanks: Jeff Snyder  <>

Q46. Are there any organizations concerning golf and left-handers? 

	We have heard of the National Association of Left-Handed
	Golfers (NALG).  It is " a nonprofit organization that
	promotes and enhances left-handed golf." Dues are US$20 per
	year. Phone number is: 1-800-844-NALG 
                    in Canada: 1-880-844-NALG
	and the URL:

Q47. Which sports banned left-handers? 

	I don't know the answer to this one, precisely, but I believe it
    to be Polo. My reasoning is that the horses are trained to expect 
    the mallot to always to be swung from the right side. To do it on
    the left would spook the horses and cause safety problems.

	Albert Prete <71212.1644@CompuServe.COM> thinks that the sport is jai 
    alai. In jai alai a ball is thrown at walls at a very high rate of
    speed. A gourd (cesta) is used to throw the ball.  I guess they're
    concerned about someone getting hit with the cesta.

    Marty <> mined this tidbit from the Dania
    Jai-alai web site: Due to the centuries-old tradition of the game
    of jai-alai, all players ("lefties" included) are required to wear the
    cesta on their right hand.  Also, because of the side wall being on
    the left side of the court, it would be dangerous and almost
    impossible for players to throw with their left hand. For more
    information, try

	Scoop <> tell me that when he was in school in
    the UK he was not permitted to play Field Hockey lefthanded and that
	there is no such thing as a lefthanded Hockey Stick. He also told me
    that the  Grand National Archery Association, which is the only
	such organization in England, requires lefthanders to be segregated
    to one side during competitions. Similarly, The National Smallbore
    Rifle Association in the UK and The National Rifle Association in the
    UK segregates the lefthanders to one side during competitions as well.

Q48. What are left-handed playing cards? 

	Left-handed playing cards are cards where the numbers are printed
   on all four corners of the card. That way, no matter which way you
   fan them out, you can see the numbers. Standard cards must be
   fanned in a right-handed manner for the numbers to be visible.

	According to Elisa <> A brand name for which you
    can search is: WADDINGTONS Number 1 Playing Cards - Superior
    Quality - Linen Finish.

	Thanks: Elisa Carlos <>

Q49. Are there scholarships available for Left-handed peope? 

	We have heard of one scholarship available. It is particular to Juniata
	College in Huntington, Pensylvania. It is worth $1000 USD, which doesn't
	go a long way at Juniata, where costs run about $25000 USD. Lefthandedness
	is just one of the qualifications; you need to have demonstrated academic
	achievement as well.

	Thanks: Katie Shaefer <>

Barry D. Benowitz - FAQ maintainer for alt.lefthanders 
Phone:+1 609 866 1000 x3354
Snail:Telesciences Inc, 4000 Midlantic Dr., Mt. Laurel, NJ, 08054-5476

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