Lorem Ipsum ~ Which, Being Translated…


Lipsum: Its not just for breakfast anymore!

It is the universal dummy text. The brown fox jumps over the lazy dog goes Latin-ish. Sometimes I feel like blogs are nothing more than that at times, set to more or less standard American english. Blah blah blah I’m still alive blah blah blog. Lorem ipsum iddy bittius bugg en plantibus. Put that as caption to an insect photo on the summer morning blog post and not many would notice. But that is not my point.

My point with this small space and thin slice of your time is to ask if you’ve ever questioned the source of the “dummy text” so universally inserted as stand-in font and text in otherwise blank template starter pages. I ask because, frankly, until this morning, I’ve never known. Now I do.

Turns out, first, this “greekingtext it IS Latin, sort of. Secondly, by itself, the passage usually given is not so meaningful as the words are pulled (perhaps some time in the 1500s) in snatches here and there from “The Extremes of Good and Evil” by Cicero–sometimes PARTS of words (lorem is part of the real word dolorem, for instance) used instead of the native language primarily so the viewer won’t be distracted by content and pay attention instead to font, layout and overall appearance.

Apparently, Aldus PageMaker brought the pseudo-Latin prominently into the modern era as a placeholder text for its page layout templates. A bit more, here. And get your Latin mottos, love quotes and legal phrases here. Caveat emptor and habeas corpus.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I remember Aldus PageMaker distinctly. I had it, and although it was buggy and crashed at will, it was a marvel in its day. Wow! that was back in the late 80’s I recall — my age-caked brain can’t remember exactly!

    Another thing about Lorem ipsum is that it gives an approximate English word count for the space it occupies. Used to work in the printing industry, where it was used extensively.

  2. This is very interesting case, commenetd widely on Polish blogs (product is Polish) – but still unknown what happened and why it is there.