"beyond the pale"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Dec 31 17:53:37 UTC 2010

The sense I have in mind for "beyond the pale"
that does not seem to be in the OED is something like:

"the state, situation, condition, culture of Jews
who escaped from (left) the Russian Pale of Settlement".

That might be pale, n.1, sense 5 (fig) c. "beyond
the pale (of): outside or beyond the bounds
(of)".  However, that sense is combined with
"beyond the pale: outside the limits of
acceptable behaviour; unacceptable or
improper."  And there are no quotations under 5.c
that do not at least hint at disapproval, and
certainly none for the phrase's use with
reference to the Pale of Settlement -- and without disapproval.


At 12/30/2010 05:01 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>Does the OED need a quotation for "beyond the
>pale" that specifically connotes the Russian Pale
>of Settlement?  The meaning there is "outside or
>beyond the bounds (of)", not "outside the limits
>of acceptable behaviour; unacceptable or
>improper".  The only quotation (August 2010)
>associated with the Jews is "1974    A. Goddard
>Vienna Pursuit ii. 60   The Jews were shown to be
>beyond the pale—untermenschen who had murdered
>Christ.", which unfortunately does have the negative connotation.
>There are 13,600 raw GBooks hits for "beyond the
>pale" + Jews, going back to perhaps the 1870s in
>the context of the Russian pale.
>      Perhaps this, from 1884: _The Jewish
>question in Russia_, Pavel Pavlovich Demidov
>(principe Di San Donato): "Lastly, frequently
>expelled and driven from country to country and
>treated as being beyond the pale of the law, the
>Jews found that money served them as the only
>means of salvation and enabled them to purchase
>their right to existence. ...")
>      Or this, from 1871:  _HISTORY OF THE WOROD
>EVERT A. DUYCKINCK: "In 1850 an equally
>oppressive ukase forbade altogether the practice
>prevalent among Jewish women in Russia of cutting
>... of the Inquisition over them should cease,
>and their position beyond the pale of civil society otherwise amended. ..."
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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