Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet Consectetur

We all recognise gibberish when we see it... that is until we start to see a pattern. Then gibberish takes on a life of its own, complete with extensive history and etymology. "Lorem ipsum", as you may have guessed, has its roots in classic latin. Dating all the way back to 45 BC, you'll find those very words in Marcus Tullius Cicero's Socratic dialogue, De finibus bonorum et malorum (The Extremes of Good and Evil).

The passage reads: "Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit", which translates to, "There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain". Clive Barker may beg to differ but I'm sure the rest of us would agree.

So, it seems Cicero now lives on as placeholder text for typography templates. Not bad. Other remnants of Roman Power live on as online slots. Most of us can only hope to live on as a high score on a video game.

Speaking of such pass times...

The Evolution of Gibberish in Games.

What once worked as a placeholder for dialogue has now, in certain games, evolved into something discernible. Decipherable. Below is a list of games that took gibberish far more seriously than one would expect:

  • Civilization, in all its grandiosity, may be the most famous gibberish language game in existence. Of course, there is no real language being spoken but what players hear might sound a lot like English through the filter of foreign ears. Hold that thought, for there is a Civilization inspired game - listed here - that took the uncanny nature of that brand of gibberish further...

  • Final Fantasy X has a language in its universe called Al Bhed. More of a cipher than a spoken language, it can actually be translated into English using this handy key:


  • The Legend of Zelda, like Final Fantasy X, has a decipherable language called Hylian. However, this one was taken more seriously. It's based on Egyptian hieroglyphs and there are, at least, five versions of the language. The first version was, indeed, gibberish, made to read like a decipherable language, but by The Legend of Zelda's sequels - 'Ocarina' & 'Wind Waker' - Hylian had evolved into a fully functioning language that could be translated directly to Japanese. Better still, The Legend of Zelda's later sequels - Twilight Princess & Skyward Sword - had evolved the language to a point where it could be directly translated to English.


  • The Sims took gibberish the furthest. Not only did they create a universe in which even the diegetic music was entirely in gibberish... they've now named their brand of gibberish Simlish, and it has evolved into a language that can be both read and spoken. “Sul sul” means “hello” and “Harva sol labaga" or "hava so lawnumg” translates to “Hey! Party at my house!”. AND, to circle back to the music heard on in-game radio stations, the creators of The Sims 2 hired Katy Perry to sing 'Last Friday Night' in Simlish!

The Coolest Code Ever Cracked

Ever heard of the Sator Square? It was found in the ruins of Pompeii and its properties are quite captivating. It's a five word Latin palindrome, with each word made up of 5 letters. While not all the words read the same backwards as they do forwards, each word feeds into the other to create a palindromic phrase that can be read in all directions - left to right, right to left, top to bottom, bottom to top.


The words' meanings are as follows:

  • Sator: seeder, sower, planter, founder, progenitor, originator

  • Arepo: likely a name, perhaps of Egyptian origin - possibly a coded version of Harpocrates or Hor-Hap (Serapis).

  • Tenet: to hold, he/she/it holds, keeps, comprehends, possesses, masters, preserves, sustains.

  • Opera: work, works, care, aid, labour, service, effort/trouble, deeds with effort.

  • Rotas: wheels you turn or cause to rotate.

Like Rome, Pompeii's legacy can now be seen celebrated by the likes of Hollywood producers and slot game developers. But, of course, it is usually the most fascinating aspects of ancient existence that inspires popular art... and gibberish.