Lorem Trivium

Y’know how some things just suddenly bug you until you figure them out? I was staring at a Lorem Ipsum passage and wondered why this particular placeholder gobbledegook kept turning up again and again.

I’ve always assumed it was Latin-based nonsense, but I don’t know Latin. Today that not knowing got to me. I mean, was it a joke I was missing? User instructions? A first-century warranty?

Google to the rescue.

This site explains that the passage first started its career as dummy text in printing galleys back in the 1500s. Variants have appeared since. The really cool bit is that a researcher (Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia) tracked the origins of the passage to “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” by Cicero (“The Extremes of Good and Evil,” written around 45 B.C.E.). Check out the web site for a translation. The passage in question is all about pleasure and pain. And exercise. Must have had a trainer like mine.

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