Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Latin mystery

I have no clue how he stumbled upon this, but a fellow Latin lover, Father Joel Sember of Green Bay, Wis., recently pointed out to me that when you copy and paste the text from a page on the Vatican City State's new website (, a hidden, somewhat Latinate warning mysteriously appears.

Here's the text of the warning:

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. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

I can't make heads or tails out of it, so I'm almost ready to conclude that it's a bunch of nonsense words strung together. But then again, parts of it, when modified slightly, seem to make sense:

Ut enim ad minim[am] veniam,
could be...
For even as a minimal kindness,

nostr[ae] exercitation[em] ullam[...] laboris
could be...
Any exercise of our labor

Other words seem ominous, especially the repitition of dolor.

Unfortunately I don't have the time to decode it, but any other Latin lovers out there who want to tackle it, be my guest.


Cassandra said...

Well, alas, I don't think we have any imprisoned Vatican webmaster trying to leak out the real text of the Third Secret of Fatima.

Turns out these words are used as example text in web-layout examples. Yahoo uses them:
So does 24ways: (which just happens to be a column display example like the Vatican page).

From example to example the cut and pastes aren't perfect (ala a modern example of copyist mistakes-- a treasure trove for you textual criticism fans).

Judging from some of the phrases, I'd take a rough guess at the original by suggesting (paraphrasing) that it said something like:
For those that like to do it the hard way, it's a lot of work and sorrow. But as a kindness, we'll show you how to do it an easier way.

For you Gnostics, it almost certainly said:
For those that like to follow the Mosaic Law, it's a lot of work and sorrow. But as a kindness, I'm going to show you an easier Way without guilt and without any moral constraints.

Franz Klein said...


Thanks, Cassandra!


Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a filler but one that replicates the normal distribution of letters seen in "normal" language. It pre dates the computer age and goes back to the time when printing began.

More info here