Monday, August 25, 2014

Sump'n' to Think About

Where did the sump pump get its name? Was it: a) from its inventor, Archibald J. Sump; b) from a nonsense word chosen simply because of the euphony of rhyming with pump;  c) from a corruption of "something," coined by a farmer who wanted to pump "sump'n'" out of a hole but wasn't sure what it was; or d) none of the above.  Awww, I bet you knew it was none of the above.

A sump pump is so named because it removes water from a sump. And what, you may ask, is a sump?  A sump is a pit or reservoir designed to collect unwanted water, as in a subterranean basement.  The word was first used in the 1650s and is derived from Middle English sompe, from which the word swamp also comes.  An earlier cognate is the fifteenth-century Middle Low German sump, whose root is the Proto-Germanic sumpaz, a “marsh or morass.”

A sump pump usually stands in a specially constructed sump pit dug in the lowest part of a basement. As the pit fills with water, the pump automatically turns on and moves the liquid to a spot away from your home—like your neighbor’s back yard.  That solves your problem!

The Bard of Buffalo Bayou discovered these lines scrawled on a parchment at the bottom of a sump pit, covered with what you might expect to find there.           

            When you’ve slipped in a slump,
            And the road’s hit a bump,
            And you’re flat on your rump,
            And you look like a frump
            And you feel like a chump,
            And you’re down in the dumps,
            And you’ve taken your lumps,
            And you’re sick with the mumps—            
            Then put pumps in your sumps,
            And you’ll come up with trumps!


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