german as she is spoke (sumpf)

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May 6, 2009 by juniorannex

One of the curious things about language is not only the common roots of many words, but the divergence in meaning that similar words have taken over time as they progress through related languages.  Take German for instance – sumpf means swamp or marsh, while in English sump means, a hollow or pit into which liquid drains, such as a cesspool, cesspit or sink.

When exactly was the point of departure?  Clearly both words imply a common meaning at some time in the past, and yet over some time have diverged to mean quite different things, and yet not far enough apart to obscure the original meaning.

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Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron'scruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. C.S. Lewis

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