Both Sides Now
June 6, 2006 1:06 PM   Subscribe

I have this little trick I do. I draw and write with both hands at the same time, my left hand mirroring the movements of my right. I also find it a lot easier writing notes backward with my left hand. Is there a name for this, and is this kind of symmetrical left/right thing common?
posted by maryh to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure about it's name, but I have a friend who can do this, so maybe it's not as uncommon as I'd think it would be...
posted by Meagan at 1:09 PM on June 6, 2006

Intentional dyslexia?
posted by deadfather at 1:17 PM on June 6, 2006

When I was a kid, I too realized I could do this. No idea how common it is, but you're not alone!
posted by unknowncommand at 1:18 PM on June 6, 2006

See also: mirror writing [2] and Boustrophedon.
posted by deadfather at 1:19 PM on June 6, 2006

Interestingly, there was a comment about this in the "body tricks" thread.
posted by milquetoast at 1:21 PM on June 6, 2006

I can write backwards with my left hand too (and forwards, as I'm left handed). The symetrical writing/drawing thing seems somewhat common; I had a few different drawing teachers do various exercises like that. FWIW, it's much easier for me to start writing with both hands in the middle of the page and write out toward the edge of the paper, with my left hand writing backwards, than the other way around.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:28 PM on June 6, 2006

Thanks for the links deadfather. I'd forgotten about DaVinci's backward writing, which was what motivated me to try this in the first place back in the 5th grade. The article linked from Wikipedia is exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. It's interesting that it looks to have a hereditary basis, because my 4 year old shows sign of being able to do it, too.
posted by maryh at 1:35 PM on June 6, 2006

Yeah, maryh, that article's interesting - I'm left handed and can write in mirror writing (though my mirror writing is fairly child-like, I guess because I haven't practiced it as much as the forward-facing stuff). But I find it almost impossible to read back - even stuff I've just written myself - as soon as I've written it down, it's impenetrable.
posted by penguin pie at 2:44 PM on June 6, 2006

Anyone can do it. It's a result of the way your brain is divided (as I mentioned in the link milquetoast provided). Right-handed people have an easier time of it, since they start in the middle and work outwards, while left-handed people have to start out and work inwards, but it's still do-able.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:01 PM on June 6, 2006

That's very cool, Civil_Disobedient. I just tried writing outside-working-in, and the mirror writing was reversed!
posted by maryh at 4:26 PM on June 6, 2006

I used to take notes in school like this, to make it slightly less boring.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:33 PM on June 6, 2006

Apparently, James Garfield could do this as well, and in Latin and Greek simultaneously!
posted by hoborg at 9:50 PM on June 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

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