Shelagh Robinson Mirror Read Blog 29: Handcestry: Mirror Writing and Mirror Reading

Of course you have a handcestry – chromosomal links between your hands and those of all the people who came before you.
They contributed to your genetic handiwork, physically and mentally, before you were born. Your dominant hand, your writing style and your ability to mirror write have all been linked to inherited traits.

There are plenty of interesting online discussions about handcestry.  As it turns out, lots of people are intrigued by the genetics of mirror writing and reading abilities. Among the most interesting conversations, to me, are on the websites that help us construct our genealogical histories. We are not all created equal when it comes to reading and writing backwards. Reversals, it seems, run in families.

I was recently tipped off to the multiple discussions on family tree sites describing the mirror reading and writing abilities of individuals and their various relatives: People are talking! Parents and grandparents who were known to reverse their letters, children and grandchildren who can read mirror text with ease.

It appears to be like tongue rolling or tasting turnips – not everyone within a community is equally able to mirror. In fact, what was once thought to be an obscure quirk may now be key evidence of lineage. If we are looking for shared characteristics, propensities to mirror read and write would be a good place to begin.

Language theorists, too, are interested in mirroring abilities and handcestry. Was the genetic genius of the ancient Phoenician peoples evidenced in their unique written script? Known as  “Boustrophedon,” it involved writing both forwards and backwards letters, changing direction within the same text.  Referring to patterns of characters that are read, for example, left to right, then right to left, and left to right again, this manner of depicting and decoding language involves tremendous mental flexibility.  Was this skill an inherited trait  – a communal quality? What there something special about the genes of ancient Greeks?

This is not to say that our dominant handcestries account for all our abilities.   Practice makes cortex, and play makes grey (matter). In fact, this plasticity is one of the elements I find most fascinating about writing and reading in reverse – we have malleable brains that grow and change when we stretch them. It’s exciting to watch a skill develop.  As our brain cells connect, and neuronal pathways are reinforced, what was once difficult becomes easy and automatic.

Of course, you never know what you got, ‘til you try.
So, if were weren’t sure if you were good at something because of your genotype, try out mirror reading or mirror writing, and let us know!

5 Responses to Shelagh Robinson Mirror Read Blog 29: Handcestry: Mirror Writing and Mirror Reading

  1. Eliza MacLennan says:

    I was a proficient mirror written as a child yet it was trained out of me and have at least 2 mirror writing kids. My son Hamish aged 8 is interesting as he is a non right handed, dominat hand is his left yet dominant ear and leg is right so he is confused and finding reading and writing a challenge. I remember my high gifted learner daughter about the same age and also muddled when they were teaching her not to read in reverse and would say just get her to sound it out first “s-a-w” saw and she would go “s-a-w” was, even when going slowly. I don’t know now though if I am any faster at mirror reading than anyone else, are their tests ? And maybe I should let my son learn spelling in mirror, he may find it easier. I have done an extensive family tree on so shall add in mirror writing ability. Thanks Eliza

    • shelagh says:

      Hi Jeanell,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I really appreciate your interest. Unfortunately, Print Inverse Reading is an interest of mine, but not a specialty. I have connected with experts in the field, but apart from those mentioned in my article, I can’t offer you other suggestions. Sorry…If I do come across further resources, I will be sure to let you know.

    • shelagh says:

      Hi Eliza,
      Thanks so much for writing! You have a fascinating skill, as does Hamish and your daughter. Too bad such gifts are trained out of so many of us as we learn. I think that including mirror writing and reading abilities in official Ancestry websites is a great idea. Please feel free to let me know about your further genealogical pursuits- I would like to share your findings with the world! :) and yes, do check out spelling in a mirror with your son and let me know how it goes.

  2. Teri Shea says:

    I became left handed when I was 26 yrs old. I did not make it thru high school and had learning difficulties. I was considered “bright” but this seemed to complicate matters. After learning to use my left hand, my ability to focus and learn…remember, accelerated. I am now 68 yrs and I often played around with mirror writing. I was always looking for some type of software which would allow me write on a computer in mirror. I spent time comparing my writing both left and right and for me it seemed my mirror writing was different and maybe because having to syllablize each word, especially when reading, it seemed better. Go figure! I was so happy when your website became known to me. I work at a library and one of our patron’s son has emotional and learning disabilities but who also has been writing mirror all his life. I gave her your website and I have yet to hear back, but I am hopefull he may improve his ability to relate. Thank you so much for creating all these wonderful features and your dedication to this phenomenon.

    • shelagh says:

      Hi Teri,
      What a fascinating story you have. I am curious about why you became a lefty. I became a righty!
      I do believe that the qualities you possess are special and worth exploring. Thank you so much for passing along the Mirror Read website to those around you. Especially now that we have turned the internet backwards with the iTunes Mirror Read app. Are you also a skilled reader in reverse?
      Please keep me posted on your pursuits – your letter inspires me!
      Aloha?! You are my ohana. :)

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