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Old 12-02-2005, 08:44 AM   #1
ElyseC
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Originally Posted by don Arnoldy
Maybe for the same reason Americans call French fries, Russian dressing, and English muffins what they do!
A few years ago I gave some QuarkXPress training to a woman, in from Greece, visiting her family in California. She'd learned what she knew of QX on the job at a university there in Greece, but could find no training for the app there or anywhere nearby. Quark Inc. pointed her to me as being "local" for her visit, so we got together.

I was going over basics, explaining preference settings, giving my recommendations, when she stopped me to ask what on earth "Greek text below..." could mean.

Turns out the Greeks would never say, "It's all Greek to me!" when faced with something they don't understand; they say, "it's all Chinese to me!"

   
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Old 12-02-2005, 09:31 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by ElyseC
I was going over basics, explaining preference settings, giving my recommendations, when she stopped me to ask what on earth "Greek text below..." could mean.

Turns out the Greeks would never say, "It's all Greek to me!" when faced with something they don't understand; they say, "it's all Chinese to me!"
LOL! Of course not!

But what always puzzles me is why it should be called (in English) "Greek text" when what it really is is (fake) Latin - I've never seen any "Greek text" even remotely like Greek... And no, I don't have the foggiest what it's called in Dutch either: I suspect the term it originated with electronic typesetting and when I was learning some typography there was no such thing; so I learned the concept in English.

And now I wonder: what would a Chinese typographer use in lieu of "Greek text"? Surely not (fake) Latin or even Greek...
( BTW, searching for "chinese typography" I stumbled onto this site with some stunning examples: http://www.posterpage.ch/exhib/ex135typ/ex135typ.htm )

   
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Old 12-02-2005, 11:04 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by iamback
( BTW, searching for "chinese typography" I stumbled onto this site with some stunning examples: http://www.posterpage.ch/exhib/ex135typ/ex135typ.htm )
Now, that was very fun to see! Glad you posted the link!

Yes, the moment my student and I got to the "Greek text below" setting, it dawned on me that she might have a question or comment. I love languages (so have immensely enjoyed all the discussion in this thread), love etymology, too, but for some reason it had never dawned on me that localized versions of page layout apps might give that setting a different name. Incredible, but true, it never occurred to me. <g> (Rather like not seeing the forest for the trees or that not until I was a grown-up did I realize that pickles were just preserved cucumbers and not an entirely separate species of veggie bobbing about in vinegar. <G>)

So, if anyone here has a page layout app in a language other than English, I'd love to know what that setting is called in which localized version.

   
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Old 12-02-2005, 12:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by iamback
( BTW, searching for "chinese typography" I stumbled onto this site with some stunning examples: http://www.posterpage.ch/exhib/ex135typ/ex135typ.htm )
Wow! Very beautiful stuff there. Thanks for finding that.

   
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Old 12-02-2005, 12:34 PM   #5
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Majolein:

But what always puzzles me is why it should be called (in English) "Greek text"

Is it? I always though the expression was 'greeking', which means (I think) just conveying the impression of text when the text is not in fact legible. The expression 'all Greek to me' means simply that the text is incomprehensible; it arose, I suppose, when very few people knew ancient Greek, the lingua franca being Latin.

I don't know of any European equivalents, but all Europeans, including scholars,* were in the same boat until the Renaissance.

*Except Greeks, of course.

   
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Old 12-02-2005, 01:30 PM   #6
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But what always puzzles me is why it should be called (in English) "Greek text" when what it really is is (fake) Latin …
It is usually used as a verb, “greeking” (that is, using dummy text).

The ubiquitous “lorem ipsum” text is not fake Latin but some Cicero, (somewhat brutalized). It has been floating around for centuries but really became common after Letraset produced transfer sheets of that text in various typefaces (in both white and black versions and several sizes) in the 1970s. With DTP, digital versions showed up all over the internet, and now layout programs can produce greeking for you.

But lorem ipsum is not the only way one can “greek” text. In fact, for English, at least, it is not desirable: If the object is to avoid distracting the client about details when you want them to look at the layout, it is too different from English to work well. Worse, those words are not in hyphenation dictionaries, so they will not break the way real English will, so there will be hideous rivers of white space in justified paragraphs and wild raggedness in flush left type. Now that really is distracting.

Oldtimers like me will remember using a flat pencil to make scribbles to mimic lines of type. Later, when appropriate markers became available, I would make horizontal lines to suggest type size and leading (and line breaks) with a flat-sided marker, which was much easier.

(In fact, in the early days of DTP, I would flow the real text into a layout but then trace over it with scribbles or marker lines to make a trial layout on vellum for the client. I really did not want him thinking about content at that point. This was before you could easily get lorem ipsum.)

There are also utilities that will scramble any English text to make gibberish of ordinary words. I usually use a couple of pages of text from books; for years I favored the opening of chapter 2 of A Room With a View, because it used ordinary words, and it was such a nice bit of story.

Why “greeking”? Probably because of the common English comment: “It’s all Greek to me!” when encountering something that is hard to understand. And “latining” would be really hard to say.

   
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Old 12-02-2005, 03:40 PM   #7
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KT:

using dummy text

I'd venture to disagree there: greeking is using something that gives the vague impression of text, but no recognizable words or even letters (which was what you once did with your pencil). But Greek text would have served the same purpose at one time, since Greek letters were virtually unknown (except for the alpha and omega on the paschal candle).

   
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Old 12-02-2005, 04:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Rowley
I'd venture to disagree there: greeking is using something that gives the vague impression of text, but no recognizable words or even letters (which was what you once did with your pencil). But Greek text would have served the same purpose at one time, since Greek letters were virtually unknown (except for the alpha and omega on the paschal candle).
I don’t know a lot about ancient history, but I do know about ancient graphic design history! And that is what I think we are discussing here, no?

That is, I suppose someone might have used Greek for that purpose at some point, but I do not think that is the source of the term “greeking” as we use it today.

   
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Old 12-02-2005, 04:42 PM   #9
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And if you ever need some lorem ipsum, you can generate it by the pound here: http://www.lipsum.com/.

   
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Old 12-02-2005, 05:11 PM   #10
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And if you ever need some lorem ipsum, you can generate it by the pound here: http://www.lipsum.com/.
Yeah. But as I said — I don’t like to use it.

How can anyone judge typeface, font, size, measure, etc. with text that doesn’t hyphenate or justify correctly?

Madness. <g>

   
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