Does anyone else confuse East and West?

Check the g*****mn map of A1RL0CK and see if it makes sense. I don’t think I confuse west and east, I’m pretty sure they’re mapped reversed in my brain.
That’s why when making games (no big deal in playing them, it seems) I create fourth-dimensional nightmares.

The only trick I know is “Far West” is USA so it’s left on the map, east is Russia so it’s right.

I’m adding the placing on a keyboard now. Hope it helps.

PS: this is a sort of twisted synesthesia, in my book. So here’s a question: do any of you map the year three-dimensionally? And if so, how?
Mine is a twisted circle around me, not exactly precise, with January in a general north/front and August on my back. Something to add: I have a spatial week, too, but lack a spatial month.

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Only constantly.

Same same.
I don’t feel like I have this problem much in real life, but when I’m looking at maps I’m usually going from the visual information “X is right of Y” to the lexical “X is east of Y”, so I guess the picture is already in my head.

I do have to think about left vs right in real life though (both when interpreting received words, and when producing them when I’m e.g. giving directions).

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Mine’s mostly vertical, I think?
There’s a good discussion of this in episode 15 of the podcast Lingthusiasm – see transcript here.

Gretchen: […] I want to talk about time- space synaesthesia a little bit, because this is actually one of these kind of – it’s less talked about and it’s a lot more common I think than people were realising, that a lot of people have instinctive visual metaphors, a kind of a mental image or an image in your mind’s eye, of where different times of day are, where different days of the week are, where different months of the year are, hours in the day. […]
I think most time-space synaesthetes visualise time as a circle. Which kind of makes sense, because all of our time things, like hours in the day, months of the year, they repeat and they’re cyclic around each other. […]
And the classic one that you see in the visualisations is that someone will be standing in the centre of this big ring. And in the ring are the different months of the year, in order, and the one that’s in front of the person will be the current month.


Yes!! I thought it was just me!


I have never confused north with south, or left with right. But I am sure I’ll never get an intuitive feel for east and west. To late for that! I always have to stop for a few seconds and think - East … hmm… that is China and that is to the right of Sweden. West … America then … and to the left of Sweden.


Yes, USA is west and Russia is east.

But on the globe the direct western neighbour of USA is Russia, and the direct eastern neighbour of Russia is USA. Because it’s a globe.

World maps are normally Europe-centric, for the simple reason that the global seafarers were from Europe at the beginning of worldwide sailing. If maps were Japan-centric, USA were east and Russia west.

I’ve also read that many tribes don’t even know left and right.


Nope, never! Odd. I also did the mnemonics, so maybe that helps…?

Exactly me, with Bill Murray and Tom Hanks. And a LOT of others.


I admit to being as directionally supercompetent as @DeusIrae. With the same offshoot problems:

When broadly talking about which way some suburb of Sydney is, I always use n/s/e/w. My sister doesn’t understand this at all, though she’s the one I need to direct.

(Caveat is, in her case, there is probably NO way to tell her where anything is. The other day I gave her a ton of info about getting her son to a chess lesson. Didn’t use n/e/s/w, either. She immediately walked them out of the train station and in the opposite direction. I had to put my nephew on the phone and real-time direct him to direct them both.)



Confused by east and west? No. Never. However, I do sometimes have to stop and think about port and starboard.

For those of you that are directionally challenged, I think you should draw a map when playing parser games, rather than trying to keep the map in your head. Draw a compass rose at the top of each page as a constant reminder of the correct directions.

I like the clever east/west memory joggers that people have posted, especially the position of W and E on a QWERTY keyboard, as you have to look at those every time you type east or west…hmm, unless you’re a touch typist. If you’re a dyslexic touch typist, do you always get W and E back to front?


I have no confusion between east and west, at least. Left and right are hardly used in parser format. They are more often used, at least in my case, for choice format, since they are relative to which direction one is facing. Then again, since many of last year’s IFComp entries had boats in some part of the story, some authors used port and starboard frequently, and I was more familiar with compass directions than shipboard directions.

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I do this all the time when reading books, too.

“Starboard” is equivalent to the Dutch “stuurboord” → the board with which/from which you stear the ship. (So so many nautical terms have Dutch origins, although I’m not sure if this one counts. They may just have a common ancestral root).
I combine this etymological information with the little tidbit I once picked up about Viking ships (and presumably all sorts of old ship types):
→ They didn’t have a central rudder. They used an oversized oar hanging over the side of the ship, right near the stern.

Since the majority of people are right-handed, the giant stearing oar was placed on the right side of the boat. The board/side with which/where you stear.
→ St(e)arboard.

Never have problems with port/starboard. Nor with fore/aft. Bow/stern on the other hand…

By the time of the Gokstad ship, the giant oar had evolved into a proper rudder, albeit still placed on the right side of the ship:

[Stern view of the Gokstad ship, a 9th century Scandinavian longship, with the side-rudder
on the right.]

Longship - Wikipedia
Gokstad ship - Wikipedia

And to answer the original question: Yes. Yes I do.


I get wrong sometimes when mapping a game by changing east x west exits in the map. In order to avoid that mistakes I often draw a directions rose before start playing.
When the game uses nautical directions: Bulkheads are very confusing to me.


Interesting angle. Pormpuraawans don’t have the relative positioning like left and right, but they think in absolutes like NE and SW. They also imagine time flowing from east to west. What if a Pormpuraawan is confused about east/west? Do they get confused about past and future as well? Since they always think about in absolute directions, they are adept at staying oriented, so maybe they just don’t get confused about east/west.

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Hanon, you perchance are ambidextrous ? when coding IF, (that is, abstracting directions), something I mix up with “left-west, right-east”, notwithstanding the easy assist from, well, politics (in Italy, Communists salute with raised clenched left fists, fascists, with raised pseudo-roman “salute” with right (the actual one, whose is actually an oath gesture, is ~15°-20° up).

EDIT: UNBELIEVABLE !! after 40+ years of computing (preceded by some years of typewriter usage), incl. IF playing & coding, only now I notice that W and E is in the right “west-left/east-right” layout on the keyboard…

in mapping IF, well, the issue is in the accursed placement of W and E on the keyboard (excepted, as usual, the French ones…) lead to obvious mistakes stemming from typos…

IRL, actually I’m one of the few people whose can take the time of day from sun’s position, scaring youngsters in giving precise-to-half hour time only looking up in sunny days… (BTW, an interesting maze puzzle…) so all I need, on sunny days, is that the noon is past or to for figuring where is the E and W, and the S at noon… (of course, as IF grognard, I always take the cardinal directions when outdoors)

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.


I actually have quite a visual memory, it seems. After working on a parser game for a few years I can walk around its environment in my mind as though it were a place I’ve visited a lot in real life. The process of imagining feels identical to that of remembering to me. It’s the same with a one room game, I know where everything is in relation to everything else. I admit it did take me a while to learn which side was starboard and which larboard (the term port didn’t appear until the 19th century) in To Sea in a Sieve.


I do this, too, otherwise I just screw up my map with my east/west confusion.


Interesting corollary, at least one South American tribe had absolutely no number system/words for numbers at all, but would use the adjective “big” to sort of represent “many” as well. Several other languages have only words for “one” and “two”, which they would repeat in combos to arrive at the desired number…


I am horribly ‘left-right dyslexic’ as a friend used to call it, and this also extends to east and west. I do draw maps when playing parser games but I often end up drawing them wrong because of this.

My husband isn’t great at it, either, which can lead to some issues when he’s navigating and I’m driving.


"No, left! No the other left! Why are you going backwards!!!

… Oh wait, that’s to the right. Wait, which way is starboard again?"