Thursday, 3 March 2011

a correspondent writes

Hello Jane.
I've just, belatedly, read the Reading Chronicle's report about Cllr Swaine's alleged racism, and found a real classsic.
"Cllr Lovelock said that his remarks were 'beyond the pale'".

(Has she the nous to say that deliberately?)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just for once.... Jane: do explain the correct meaning and definition of the phrase "beyond the pale".

The other Warren said...

Pleased to see you have commented on this again.

These Reading Labour types are a
total disgrace.

They bullied,intimidated anyone and abused anyone in their own
ranks who didn't toe the line now they are trying to do the same to
Cllr Swaine.

Jonny said...

"Beyond the pale" means beyond the bounds of acceptable behaviour. It comes from the area around Dublin being called the Pale in the Middle Ages. This was the area directly ruled and controlled from England, so if you were beyond it you were a savage Oirish barbarian and probably ate children and hadn't heard of cappucino. There were other Pales - the Pale of Jews in SW Russia, the Pale of Calais (before the French treacherously grabbed it off us).
"Pale" itself basically means "fence", as in paling.
The earliest use I can find of the specific phrase and sense is from 1657.

Jane Griffiths said...

Lovelock is not an uneducated person, but I do not think she meant to be as crass as she was in using this expression. "Pales", wherever they were set up (thanks Jonny) were intended to separate populations on ethnic grounds. I was thinking of the Pale of Settlement in 17th-century Russia, beyond which all Jews were forced to live. The word survives only in the expression used by Lovelock, who ought to have known what it meant.

Martin S MP, Reading said...

How did the expression get translated from foreign into English?

theflashingblade said...

Here in Strasbourg we have Rue des Juifs, street of the Jews, which was the road they used to take to go out of the city to go to the Pale when they were not allowed to seep in the city.

Jane Griffiths said...

Hi Martin, good to see you here. Not sure how it got into English, possibly the notion sprang up in severallanguages in parallel. The Russian word is "cherta", which means a boundary marker or city limit.

Martin S MP, Reading said...

Interesting stuff.

By the way, I've learnt to speak Australian. Nobody can call me a monoglot anymore.

theflashingblade said...

Martin I think you'll find it's called "Strine" mate.

Jonny said...

Martin, "Pale" comes from Latin Palus, which is the etymological root for Pale in Western Indo-european: FR. La pale, Ir. An Pháil.
Caesar uses the phrase "ultra palum" literally in "The Gallic Wars". It is such an easy metaphorical jump to make to its idiomatic meeting that I expect it arises spontaneously across languages without the need for a translation matrix.
Its prevalence in English (it's not used metaphorically in Irish or French) probably comes from its having become recorded during the Cromwellian period, when Irish matters were rather pressing (not least for the Irish).

Jane Griffiths said...

"apartheid" is a Dutch or Afrikaans word which has existed for centuries and means something like "being apart". I used it quite deliberately and was not referring to the former system in South Africa.

Augustus Carp said...

"Apartheid" means "separateness", if I recall correctly. Thus, in the 1960s in South Africa the "politically correct" equivalent term in English was "separate development".

M. Jackson said...

Writing as a person of pallor, Jo Lovelock must go after that remark.