a scup; scupping

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Nov 18 20:26:11 UTC 2013


Are you sure that the "round-about" was part of the scup
apparatus?  The quotation says "Attached to this was a 'round-about'
for the amusement of children ...".  To me this reads like the
"round-about" was a separate device, and the specific reference to
"children" ("for the amusement of") as though the "round-about" was
intended for different riders than the "occupants" of the scup.

Before reaching this sentence, I imagined a structure with a
horizontal bar from which hung one or more boat-shaped
carriers,  oriented parallel to the support bar.  So far much like
today's simple playground swing.  Attached to the bow and stern are
ropes, whose upper ends are looped over the support bar and brought
back to but not attached to the boat.  Thus viewed from the side the
boat and ropes form a triangle.  Riders pull on the loose end of the
rope, in alternation, to swing the scup.  (Being a mechanical
engineering dummy, I suppose there are other arrangements that would work.)

As for etymology, the OED says "< Dutch schop".  One might ponder a
boat swaying (rolling) from side to side, and the "occupants" losing
their balance and sliding into the scuppers.  I can visualize two
boys competing to see who can "scup" the other.  (New York City was a
rambunctious locale in the 1800s.)

To confuse the situation, the "scup" is also a fish, the porgy (OED
n2).  Although I suppose the "boat scup" of the swing is not related
to the "scup boat" used for fishing porgy.


At 11/18/2013 11:13 AM, George Thompson wrote:
>* The OED has for "scup", noun:*
>A swing.
>1848   J. R. Bartlett *Dict. Americanisms
>Scup... A New York word.
>1849   S. Warner *Wide Wide World
>  xi,   A scup! maybe you don't know it by that name [said Mr. Van Brunt];
>some..folks call it a swing.
>  For the verb, it has:
>(See quot.
>1848   J. R. Bartlett *Dict. Americanisms
>,   *To Scup*..to swing. Common in New York.
>Here is a free-range "scup", noun and verb"; in addition, the description
>is more specific than what the citations in the OED offer:
>In this same neighborhood were numbers amusing themselves by scupping, boat
>scups being erected for the purpose, and as they were put in motion by the
>occupants hauling a rope attached to the top of the frame to which the scup
>was hung, the exercise was very beneficial, as the rapid passage through
>the air was also pleasant.  Attached to this was a "round-about" for the
>amusement of children. . . .
>      NY Herald, July 30, 1860, p. 1, col. 2
>This ride sounds like a common carnival ride, these days, rather than what
>I'd call a swing.  The carnival ride would be motorized, and I can't figure
>how the riders in the scups could achieve anything like the centrifugal
>out-swing of the modern rides, while staying within reach of the ropes.
>  Perhaps this was more like a merry-go-round, with the scups fixed to a
>revolving platform -- but they are below the frame, not resting on it.
>The ride was in a park called Jones' Wood, on the East River.
>There was a rider-propelled merry-go-round sort of ride at Hoboken, about
>this time.  My impression of that has been, that the riders moved it by
>kicking against the ground, but perhaps they pulled it around, like this
>George A. Thompson
>Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
>Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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