This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Nuts and Bolts: the lorem ipsum.

Why would anyone greek a piece of writing?

Well, to see how the layout works. To greek a piece of writing  means putting in a block of text to see what a page is going to look like.

As you'd expect from the name, the block of text you put in will probably be

Well, more or less Latin, anyway.

The passage traditionally used for this purpose begins lorem ipsum. No one knows quite when this passage was first used, but it seems likely it's a relic from a time when every letter you saw on a page had to be arranged by hand. It was a lot of trouble, so when people needed a bit of print to stick in to see how a page looked the obvious thing was to pick up a bit of type someone had already arrranged, and use that.

If the lines of text were the wrong length then obviously you'd just leave out the unwanted letters. You didn't need anything that made sense, after all.

Here is the text of the most commonly used block of writing. It's called a lorem ipsum, and it's sometimes still used on websites.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

An expanded version was originally written by Cicero, but this version has so many blocks of letters missed out that it doesn't really mean anything any more. The first bit should really read:

Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet... which means "neither is there anyone who loves grief itself since it is grief".

So the lorem ipsum is nonsense. But useful and posh-looking nonsense, all the same.

Words To Use Today: I think lorem ipsum could easily be used to mean meaningless guff put in to make the writer/speaker look clever.

Good grief, though, if everyone used it on every relevant occasion, we'd be sick of it in a fortnight*.

Lorem is a bit of the Latin word dolorem which means sadness, and ipsum means itself.

*British English for two weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Well I never! I've seen this bit of Latin many times but didn't even know it had a name. I call...I USED to call it Latin Filler. Like Poly- filla but more classical.