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If you’ve ever used desktop publishing software or demonstration packages for certain fonts, you’ve probably encountered filler text that appears to be Latin.  This placeholder text is actually pseudo-Latin known as lorem ipsum, and it’s yet another example of Latin’s ubiquity in the modern world.  The exact text varies, though it almost always begins “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.”  Lorem isn’t a true Latin word by itself (though lorum is Latin for “leash” or “strap”), but it appears to derive from the 1914 Loeb Classical Library edition of Cicero’s De finibus bonorum et malorum (On the Ends of Goods and Evils), where a page break happens to divide the word “dolorem,” thereby introducing the fragment of text “lorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet consectetur adipisci velit…” and immortalizing a partial Latin word in the printer’s lexicon.  Below is a sample passage of lorem ipsum used in Adobe publishing software:

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, et quaera rem quae abest. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

I recently encountered a reference to lorem ipsum in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, an enjoyable series of novels that toy with metafiction, wordplay, and literary curiosities.  The protagonist’s baby son, Friday Next, babbles in lorem ipsum before he learns to speak proper English, a clever wink at lorem ipsum‘s role as a printer’s placeholder before real text is entered.