left & right in politics

Chris F Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Sat Jan 5 16:21:11 UTC 2008

Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
> 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. =20
> =20
> Or did e.g. "left" mean "to the left of the President as viewed from =
> perspective of the assembled members"?
> =20
> Gerald Cohen

It's always from the perspective of someone facing the assembly, which
is seated in a hemicycle. It is the Legislative Assembly of 1791 that
seems to be most relevant here, when France was still a constitutional
monarchy and had a king.

Today's parliaments are still mapped the same way if they use this
seating arrangements and the left/right terminology. Here are examples
from today's France, Germany and Switzerland. (Note that the color red
is associated with the left wing in European political iconography):

Strangely, even though I read that the US Senate and House of
Representatives use the same seating by political groups, it is quite
rare to find graphics that use it to represent election results.


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list