If you’re reading this, then you’ve seen it.

It looks like Latin…

Lorem ipsum translated: it remains Greek to me

The apparently random Latin placeholder text, used to help design pages, has been translated. Despite the absence of meaning, it’s weirdly mesmerising

It all makes ^&*()zq … Lorem ipsum

My excitement over JRR Tolkien’s forthcoming Beowulf translation had some calling me, in no uncertain terms, a geek. Perhaps that’s why I’m so taken with this valiant attempt at translating Lorem Ipsum, the standard dummy text for printers which is a mangling of Cicero, and which dates back to the 16th century.

Used to fill blank space on a page before the proper copy is ready, it starts: “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam hendrerit nisi sed sollicitudin pellentesque. Nunc posuere purus rhoncus pulvinar aliquam. Ut aliquet tristique nisl vitae volutpat. Nulla aliquet porttitor venenatis. Donec a dui et dui fringilla consectetur id nec massa. Aliquam erat volutpat. Sed ut dui ut lacus dictum fermentum vel tincidunt neque. Sed sed lacinia lectus. Duis sit amet sodales felis. Duis nunc eros, mattis at dui ac, convallis semper risus. In adipiscing ultrices tellus, in suscipit massa vehicula eu.”

Nick Richardson at the London Review of Books asked Cambridge academic Jaspreet Singh Boparai to have a stab at translating it; he came up with the weirdly compelling:

“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. He ejjnoyes, in order that somewon, also with a severe one, unless of life. May a cusstums offficer somewon nothing of a poison-filled. Until, from a twho, twho chaffinch may also pursue it, not even a lump. But as twho, as a tank; a proverb, yeast; or else they tinscribe nor. Yet yet dewlap bed. Twho may be, let him love fellows of a polecat. Now amour, the, twhose being, drunk, yet twhitch and, an enclosed valley’s always a laugh. In acquisitiendum the Furies are Earth; in (he takes up) a lump vehicles bien.”

“It’s like extreme Mallarmé, or a Burroughsian cut-up, or a paragraph of Finnegans Wake,” muses Richardson. “Some of the new coinages are intriguingly ambiguous: ‘concer’, both cancer and conquer (and conker); ‘somewon’, a prize and a person; ‘tinscribe’, to engrave on tin?”

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