Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Lorem Ipsum: filler text in Word

A few years ago, I wrote a brief blog post explaining how to insert pig-Latin text into MS Office documents (here), but thought I would expand on it.

Often called "Lorem Ipsum", filler text is used to show what a layout or template will look like in its finished form, before you have any actual text to put into the file. I remember getting sheets of Letraset transfers which used this text... ah, the days before computers were ubiquitous.

To get a Lorem Ipsum phrase, you simply type into Word or Publisher or Adobe programmes the code "=lorem(5,10)" which will give you five paragraphs of filler text spanning ten lines. 

So why "Lorem Ipsum"? Well, apparently the use of these phrases arose from the early stages of typesetting in the 1500s, where a printer wanted to show off their variety of typesetting faces. Walsh (1996) says that:
Richard McClintock, publication director at the Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, [...] had enlightening news: "Lorem ipsum is [L]atin, slightly jumbled, the remnants of a passage from Cicero's "de Finibus".
"Dolorem Ipsum" means "pain in and of itself", from a once very widely-known treatise by Cicero, de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum. The actual phase is "Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit...", which translates as (Walsh, 1996):
"There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain" (McClintock, n.d., attributed to Pali, as cited by Walsh, 1996)
However, this is not what it actually means, because the Lorem Ipsum Latin is all up the pole, actually translating as (Flood, 2014, citing Boparai):
Rrow itself, let it be sorrow; let him love it; let him pursue it, ishing for its acquisitiendum. Because he will ab hold, unless but through concer, and also of those who resist. Now a pure snore disturbeded sum dust.
Can we assume that because everyone who was learned at the time knew their Cicero, that was why this text was chosen to showcase the printer's talent? If so, then it is a bit like the grocer's apostrophe... Here, let me show you my Latin knowledge... oops (smirks from all the learned people who truly knew their Latin). However, as Lorem Ipsum only got popular last century, I wonder how much of this story really is accurate.

Ah, well. 



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