Tuesday, 11 June 2019

beyond the pale

The turn of phrase above which means outside of one’s legal jurisdiction, sphere of influence or more figuratively out of bounds of accepted, civilised behaviour is etymologically sourced to the Pale of Calais (le Calaisis, voir également).
The idiomatic use probably comes from the former rather than the more famous case of County Dublin that came later, this territory around the port city was under English control between the Battle of Crécy (1346, competing French and Burgundians rather had the valuable real estate go to a third party instead of each other’s rival) until its siege and re-conquest in 1558. Pale is an archaic English term for a stake, used to denote a boundary or limit (limes) and derived from the Latin term pālus, which is also the source for pole and retained in the word impale—describing one’s state if dropped on said pole. Represented in Parliament for those two centuries, the exclave adopted the curious motto Vertias Temporis filia—Truth, the Daughter of Time.