Thursday, January 28, 2010

Setlement* (for Settlement*)

An unhappy Autocat reader wrote in to complain about my insensitive tone in last Thursday's blog entry (Sexaul* et al.), claiming that it went "beyond the pale." To which another reader happily broke the tension by asking what and where "the pale" was, anyway. The word pale means "a territory or district within certain bounds or under a particular jurisdiction" and originally derives from the Latin palus, meaning "stake." It has three major historical referents: the English Pale around Dublin in the 13th–16th centuries; the Pale of Calais, an English-controlled portion of France during the 14th–16th centuries; and the Pale of Settlement, a region of Imperial Russia created by Catherine the Great in which to circumscribe the Jews. Today's typo shows up 25 times in OhioLINK; slightly over half of those, however, are for titles from the 1600s. (Generally speaking, works that old have a lot of antiquated spellings, so be sure to consult the item in question before "correcting" any seeming typos—of course, you should always do that when the error occurs in a transcribed field.) I apologize for upsetting folks last week over the abortion issue, but I never meant to and hope we can all settle down now in a spirit of live and let's live (absolutely no pun intended). After all, as Jo Godwin once put it: "A truly great library [and typo blog?] contains something in it to offend everyone."

(Map of the Pale of Settlement, from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901-1906, found on Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

1 comment:

casemusic said...

Your entries are never beyond the pale as far as I'm concerned!