[Ads-l] Attention Garson: new postdating of (metaphorical) "prime the pump"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri May 12 15:09:36 EDT 2017


I always assumed it was a water pump that needs (literal or metaphorical) priming.  The ones I’ve encountered are in state parks, and you do need to prime them a couple of times the way John describes before the water comes out.  

> On May 12, 2017, at 3:06 PM, Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM> wrote:
> 
> Thanks, John.  I stand duly corrected.  
> 
> Would it be fair then to say that the term, "prime the pump", is *more* related
> to water pumps than to petrol pumps?  As you describe it below, the dynamics of
> priming a water pump would differ from those of priming a petrol pump.  Turning
> on a continuous feed in both cases, but not necessarily gravity when it comes to
> petrol.
> 
> Or similar fluids -- somewhere in my head, I have memories of an old Massie
> Fergusson tractor having to have its pump primed, and an even older tractor that
> ran on paraffin.
> 
> But that was long ago, and in another country, and besides the machine has long
> gone to the Great Junkyard in the Sky.
> 
> Robin
> 
>> 
>>    On 12 May 2017 at 19:50 "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM> wrote:
>> 
>> 
>>    One does prime water pumps. The hand pump, which was once familiar to all
>> Americans, operates by suction: The rod, which is operated by hand, lifts a
>> piston that is at the top of a column of water, and each time the rod is
>> pumped more water is brought to the outlet. If there is air below the piston,
>> it will not lift the column of water and the pump will not work. When the pump
>> is first used, and thereafter whenever there for any reason is not a
>> continuous column of water below the piston, the user must put enough water in
>> the pump for that water column to be created, a process referred to as
>> "priming."
>> 
>> 
>>    John Baker
>> 
>> 
>>    -----Original Message-----
>>    From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
>> Of Robin Hamilton
>>    Sent: Friday, May 12, 2017 1:42 PM
>>    To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>>    Subject: Re: Attention Garson: new postdating of (metaphorical) "prime the
>> pump"
>> 
>>    Does one actually prime water [sic] pumps? I'd always assumed this
>> referred to
>>    priming the pump in a petrol engine, or summat.
>> 
>>    Mind you, I may be wrong, as when I was a youngun, pumps of any kind were
>> still
>>    a twinkle in the eye of the future, and we drew water from the well in a
>> bucket.
>> 
>>    R.
>> 
>>> 
>>> On 12 May 2017 at 15:58 George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU> wrote:
>>> 
>>> 
>>> You have to keep in mind that back on the old Trump homestead in
>>> Brooklyn,
>>> his family had a pump -- that was how Brooklyn people got their water,
>>> in
>>> olden times, the 1940s & 50s. So he's very familiar with having to prime
>>> a
>>> water pump, and naturally the metaphor would come to his mind.
>>> 
>>> GAT
>>> 
>>> On Fri, May 12, 2017 at 10:39 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
>>> wrote:
>>> 
>>>> From an interview with President Trump (as in Pump) in The Economist [
>>>> http://www.economist.com/Trumptranscript]:
>>>> 
>>>> Reporter: But beyond that it’s OK if the tax plan increases the
>>>> deficit?
>>>> 
>>>> Trump: It is OK, because it won’t increase it for long. You may have
>>>> two
>>>> years where you’ll…you understand the expression “prime the pump”?
>>>> 
>>>> Reporter: Yes.
>>>> 
>>>> Trump: We have to prime the pump.
>>>> 
>>>> Reporter:It’s very Keynesian.
>>>> 
>>>> Trump: We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard
>>>> that
>>>> expression before, for this particular type of an event?
>>>> 
>>>> Reporter: Priming the pump?
>>>> 
>>>> Trump: Yeah, have you heard it?
>>>> 
>>>> Reporter: Yes.
>>>> 
>>>> Trump: Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t
>>>> heard
>>>> it. I mean, I just…I came up with it a couple of days ago and I
>>>> thought
>>>> it
>>>> was good. It’s what you have to do.
>>>> 
>>>> Reporter: It’s...
>>>> 
>>>> Trump: Yeah, what you have to do is you have to put something in
>>>> before
>>>> you can get something out.
>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> --
>>> George A. Thompson
>>> The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
>>> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
>>> Univ. Pr., 1998.
>>> 
>>> But when aroused at the Trump of Doom / Ye shall start, bold kings, from
>>> your lowly tomb. . .
>>> L. H. Sigourney, "Burial of Mazeen", Poems. Boston, 1827, p. 112
>>> 
>>> The Trump of Doom -- affectionately (of course) also known as The
>>> Dunghill
>>> Toadstool. (Here's a picture of one.)
>>> 
>>> http://www.parliament.uk/worksofart/artwork/james-gillray/an-excrescence---a-fungus-alias-a-toadstool-upon-a-dunghill/3851
>>> 
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>> 
>> 
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>>    The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> 
>> 
>>    ------------------------------------------------------------
>>    The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> 
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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