Re: Preference for "right" over "left" in languages
Originally Posted by aisha93
In Greek right is «δεξιός, -ά, -ό» [ðeksi'os ðeksi'a ðeksi'o] (masc. fem. neut.) which is an ancient adj. and noun «δεξιός, -ὰ, -όν» dĕksi'ŏs (masc.), dĕksi'ă (fem.), dĕksi'ŏn (neut.) --> the right hand/side, from PIE root *deks-, right (cf. Lat. dexter > It. destro, Sp. diestro, O.Fr. destre; BCS desni). The stranded fem. adj. «δεξιά» [ðeksi'a] means either the right hand or the right wing in politics.
Since ancient times, it described the dexterous, skilful, clever person while its superlative «δεξιώτατος» dĕksi'ōtatŏs stood for the courteous and kind person.
In battles the right wing («δεξιόν κέρας» dĕksi'ŏn 'kĕras --> right horn) was occupied by the bravest and most skilful warriors, it was a position of honour.
In Modern Greek, a remnant of the said superstition has survived in the wish «όλα να πάνε δεξιά» ['ola na 'pane ðeksi'a] lit. "[I wish] everything went rightwards [for you]", we hear from relatives, friends on the occasion of a new job; every New Year's Day, I remember my grandfather (born in 1910) asking some kid playing out in the street to be the first stranger entering our house "με το δεξί" [me to ðe'ksi] lit. "with the right [foot]", a gesture that simple rural people believed would bring good fortune, abundance of goods/crops for the whole year.
Also in the liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox rite, when a Bishop is present and during the Hierarchal Trisagion, he chants one of David's psalms (79/80): «Κύριε, Κύριε, ἐπίβλεψον ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἵδε, καὶ ἐπίσκεψε τὴν ἄµπελον ταύτην καὶ κατάρτησαι αὐτήν, ἥν ἐφύτευσεν ἡ δεξιὰ σου» (Septuagint).
"O God of hosts, look down from heaven and see, and visit this vine and the vineyard which Your right hand has planted, and the branch that You made strong for Yourself" (NKJV).
In Ancient Greek religion and system of belief, the left hand/side «ἀριστερὰ» ăristĕ'ră (in Modern Greek also «αριστερά» [ariste'ra]) was believed that brought bad omens. In fact even the invocation of the name «ἀριστερὰ» was considered it summoned evil spirits, so they replaced it in the colloquial language with the euphemism «εὐώνυμος, -ος, εὐώνυμον» eu'ōnumŏs (masc. & fem.), eu'ōnumŏn (neut.) --> euphemism for left hand/side lit. of good name, e.g. «ἐξ ευωνύμου» --> from the good-named [i.e. side/hand].
It must be said though that even the name «ἀριστερὰ» is a euphemism as it derives from «ἄριστος» 'ăristŏs --> the best, morally best, bravest (cf. aristocracy). The archaic name for it was «λαιὰ» lǣ'ă (fem.) --> left side/hand (PIE root *leh₂iuo-, left; cf. Lat. lævus, OCS лѣвъ (lěvŭ))
Last edited by apmoy70; 15th November 2012 at 8:33 PM.
Les Grecs sont étonnants dans l'adversité - François Pouqueville