Re: Left hand side

Subject: Re: Left hand side
From: John Gear <catalyst -at- PACIFIER -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 1995 11:42:00 PST

> "...on the left hand side of...." (or right hand side; no matter)?

>Whenever I encounter it I yank out the "hand." Once we get
>beyond first grade, I think it's extraneous. However, I see it
>everywhere.

>Comments?

I think it's an attempt to suggest a correct orientation for the object (or
for the viewer looking at the object) and probably not harmful.

The Navy uses "Port" and "Starboard" for the same reason. Both terms
clarify the writer or speaker's intent. Just saying "left side" or "right
side" is often fraught with danger.

Perhaps left side and right side say the same thing to you, but consider this:

If I were facing a cabinet (say, a computer console) and following
instructions to put a widget on the left side of the cabinet, I wouldn't be
sure whether the instructions meant the left side as I saw it or the left
side as viewed from inside the cabinet.

I think I would probably put the widget on the side closest to *my* left
hand as I faced the cabinet. Which could easily be the wrong side--and the
right side too! ;-)

But if the instructions said "Put it on the left-hand side of the cabinet" I
would probably take that to mean the *other* side (the one closest to my
right hand when facing it).

Just my comments, not grounded in research.


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