left & right in politics

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Sat Jan 5 15:34:00 UTC 2008

This is a request for just a minor bit of clarification.  Did the 1789 President sit (or stand) facing the other members of the Assembly?  If he did, the members sitting to his right would be on the left side of the room and those to his left would be on the right side of the room.  
Or did e.g. "left" mean "to the left of the President as viewed from perspective of the assembled members"?
Gerald Cohen

From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Arnold M. Zwicky


there's a wikipedia page for Left-right_politics, and an entry for
Left in Brewer.  from the OED entry for "centre":


  (This use originated in the French National Assembly of 1789, in
which the nobles as a body took the position of honour on the
President's right, and the Third Estate sat on his left. The
significance of these positions, which was at first merely ceremonial,
soon became political.)

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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