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Lorem Ipsum

I often get asked about the fake Latin that appears on development versions of sites.

Why not use English? It’s there to avoid distractions of language and direct the user’s attention to the text layout.

It is dummy text with the purpose of demonstrating how the various text elements work together. That way the client can see how the paragraphs compare to the headings, how lists look etc.

Lorem Ipsum has been around along time. Its origins date back to the 16th century. It was used by printers to test their typography and layout.

The tradition of Lipsum has survived through the ages. It was adopted by desktop publishing software in the 1980’s. From its publishing roots, it has spread to the web. The modern version supposed to have a distribution of letters similar to English text.

Why fake Latin and not fake English?

There’s a fairly simple explanation for that. 500 years ago, most books, particularly scientific books were published in Latin. It was the common academic language across Europe. If you lived in England, Germany, France or Spain and you could read & write Latin you could communicate without having to learn 14 different languages.

Where does it come from?

It doesn’t directly translate from Latin. The original text comes the first century BC and come from a piece called “De Finibus Bornorum et Malorum” by Cicero. The title is roughly translated to “On the Ends of Goods and Evils”.

Here is some sample text from “De Finibus Bornorum et Malorum” written in 45BC.

Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem.”

Translation:

Nor is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure.

At some stage, an enterprising typesetter decided to make a type specimen book to demonstrate different fonts. So he used a handy page of non biblical Latin to turn into nonsense Latin. Cicero was very common at the time and got the treatment.

Latin scholars will notice that some letters appear in Lorem Ipsum that don’t appear in classical Latin. “Y” & “Z” appeared in the first century BC. We have “J”, “U” & “W” which were not in classical Latin. The Romans had used an “I” for both “I” and “J”, and “V” was used for “U” and “V”. These were accommodations made to suit the English alphabet.

Lipsum variations.

Lipsum comes in many different flavours including bacon. Yum.

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