Posted by Bruce Kahl on August 11, 2004
In Reply to: Beyond the pale posted by James Briggs on August 11, 2004
: : I have yet to see the correct origen of this saying
: : 'beyond the fence' is a good answer, but it fails to explain the 'origen' I believe I know the correct answer to this and will award a prize of 25 dollars
: : to the first person to email me the correct answer
: : or more precisely the answer I believe is the correct answer, a not so helpful clue might be the french word 'Gouche'
: I don't know what you reckon your 'correct' answer is, but here's mine!
: If someone is beyond the pale they are regarded as beyond normal civilised behaviour; uncouth; somewhat barbarous. The Pale here was an actual area. In medieval times both The Pale of Ireland and the Pale of Calais existed. A Pale was the area over which the King of England had control. It was often little more than the area immediately around a town. All outside was regarded as full of savagery and barbarism. The word itself comes from the Latin "palum" meaning "stake". By evolution this came to mean "fence around a territory".
I love when you post Latin, Dr. Briggs!
Palus: pale, stake; swamp, bog, marsh
Yes and Mr.Julius Kaiser ALMOST lost it all around 53bc when he and his men got stuck at the palus swamps and bogs en route to Gaul to meet Mr. Vercingetorix:
For the English speakers:
"There was a hill sloping gently from the base, and surrounded on almost every side by a difficult and troublesome marsh, not more than fifty feet across. On this hill, having broken up the causeways, the Gauls were established, with all confidence in the position; distributed according to their several nationalities, they held every ford and thicket by the marsh."
See also: the meaning and origin of 'Beyond the pale'.