The terms as I am familiar with them are:
CLICHÉ = the metal slug with a one column width of print on it in positive
         When I was familiar with its prduction, it was made by a typesetter
         typing on a keyboard attached to a huge metal molding machine,
         called, I believe, a line-o-type. The name, I recall, is derived
         from the sound made by the slugs as they clink together.

STEREOTYPE = the monomould or styroform poured over the form containing
             the assembled type. It is the negative.

In the early days of print, type was, as Marcia said, precious, and the
aside of letters would not have been useful. In fact for that very reason
many spelling variants occurred, such as substituting a Y when an I was

Given the fluidity of media these days, it is quite conceivable
that meanings have merged, melded, crossed over, inverted, &c.

I recommed McLuhan's Governal General's Award winning THE GUTENBERG GALAXY
pp. 272-291 for a well documented discussion of the effects of print
on language, esp the effect of fixation and standardisation. One of his
sources is L'APPARITION DU LIVRE by Febvre and Martin which has a chapter
"Printing and Languages" that discusses the fixation of languages.

I hope that sterilises the matter linearly enough to the level
of what Othello called ocular proof or evidence, so easily bought into
by the typographic mind.


-----Original Message-----
From: Marcia Karp [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Thursday, May 22, 2003 7:06 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: jOURNEY OF THE literati (was Transgrezzshion)

Gunnar Jauch wrote:

>>I'd like to hear from you what a cliche is.  I can find it only
>>as a French term for stereotype.
>Peter is right: A cliché has a double meaning. It is not only a hackneyed
>phrase or expression.
>In pre-computer printing so-called metal clichés, thin galvanized metal
>plate negatives, were used to print images. The white areas of the image
>were etched out by acid. It was a stereotype in the literal sense of the
When I used "stereotype" I meant the printing term Peter had paired
cliche with. Your description fits the first sentence in the following
OED definition of cliche.

    1. The French name for a stereotype block; a cast or ‘dab’; applied
    esp. to a metal stereotype of a wood-engraving used to print from.
    Originally, a cast obtained by letting a matrix fall face downward
    upon a surface of molten metal on the point of cooling, called in
    English type-foundries ‘dabbing’.

But what about matrix? Like many technical terms (cliche) for one, it
has several meanings. First a digression. There is a series of objects
that alternate relief and intaglio that culminate in the object that
gets inked and set to paper. A matrix can be the intaglio form (not
forme) that is a mould (the British spelling is used) for casting a
piece of type; it is also a paper-mould made from the relief object to
be stereotyped -- the forme of a page, for instance, or a relief image.

Thanks for the details, Mr. G.

By now I'm sure I'm the only one interested. But I'm going to summarize
the discussion since it consisted tearing down rather than building up
and I really want to get back to the beginning.

Peter wrote

> Standarised spelling came about because of the needs of the print
> medium for consistency, to reduce the work needed for the production
> of the printed page on a mass scale (the printer was the first mass
> production machine). Instead of assembling pages letter by letter,
> compositors could assemble them word by word.

I challenged the word-by-word. He brought forth stereotypes and cliches.
But these are not "assemblies word by word." He claims type was set-up
and stored for common words. But even in the unsubstantiated account,
printers still are setting this store letter-by-letter. So, what could
have been a very simple matter of stating various sorts of elements used
in printing became a search for the truth among the claims.

Printing indeed played a part in standardized spelling, but over time
--you can find variant spellings on a given page of books in the 17th
century still.

Again Gunnar, thank you for the clarity. It is a great pleasure.