Left handed people live in a world dominated by right-handed people, and many tools and procedures are designed to facilitate use by right-handed people, often without even realising difficulties placed on the left-handed."For centuries, left-handers have suffered unfair discrimination in a world designed for right-handers." However, as well as inconvenience, left-handed people have been considered unlucky or even malicious for their difference by the right-handed majority. In many European languages, including English, the word for the direction "right" also means "correct" or "proper". Throughout history, being left-handed was considered negative. The Latin word sinistra meant "left" as well as "unlucky" and this double meaning survives in European derivatives of Latin, and in the English word "sinister.' There are many negative connotations associated with the phrase "left-handed": clumsy, awkward, unlucky, insincere, sinister, malicious, and so on. A "left-handed compliment" is considered one that is unflattering or dismissive in meaning. In French, gauche means both "left" and "awkward" or "clumsy", while droit(e) (cognate to English direct) means both "right" and "straight", as well as "law" and the legal sense of "right". The name "Dexter" derives from the Latin for "right", as does the word "dexterity" meaning manual skill. As these are all very old words, they would tend to support theories indicating that the predominance of right-handedness is an extremely old phenomenon.
Black magic is sometimes referred to as the "left-hand path".
Left-handedness is still strongly discouraged in some cultures. In the Maswai culture in Africa, "almost 90 percent of teachers and parents said that if children show a left-handed tendency they should be forced to change to right-handedness." They believe that, "left-handers are less skilled and powerful."
Until very recently in Taiwan, left-handed people were strongly encouraged to switch to being right-handed, or at least switch to writing with the right hand. Indeed, the words right/left (正/倒 ) in Taiwanese Hokkien also mean correct/backwards. It is considered more difficult to write legible Chinese characters with the left hand than it is to write Latin letters, though difficulty is subjective and depends on the person in question. Because writing when moving one's hand away from its side of the body can cause smudging if the outward side of the hand is allowed to drag across the writing, it is considered easier to write the Latin alphabet with the right hand than with the left. Conversely, right-to-left alphabets such as the Arabic and Hebrew are considered easier to write with the left hand in general.
Left-to-right alphabets can be written smudge-free and in proper "forward slant" with the left hand if the paper is turned 1/4 turn clockwise (90 degrees to the right), and the left hand is drawn toward the body on forward strokes, and left to right on upward strokes (as expressed in directionality of the text). It is also possible to do calligraphy in this posture with the left hand, but using right-handed pen nibs. Otherwise, left-handed pen nibs are required in order to get the thick to thin stroke shapes correct for most "fonts", and the left-handed calligrapher is very likely to smudge the text. Left-handed pen nibs are not generally easy to find, and strokes may have to be done backwards from traditional right-handed calligraphic work rules to avoid nib jamming and splatter.
In Islam it is encouraged to use the right hand for acts considered good, like eating and drinking. The use of the left hand is encouraged when the act is considered base, such as cleaning oneself after urination or defecation. This is attested in various Hadiths by the Prophet Muhammad.