The Sanas of Sneak and its Sneaky English Cognate (cousin)

Daniel Cassidy DanCas1 at AOL.COM
Sat Dec 18 08:30:45 UTC 2004

The Sanas of Sneak and  its Sneaky English Cognate (cousin) 
Sneaky, sneak.
Snagaí: creeper, crawler.   (O'Donaill, p. 1122). * 
Snámhaíocht, f., (gs. ~a). (Pron. snaheekt, “mh” is  aspirated)  
(Act of) creeping, crawling, sneaking. 
Snagaire: a creeper, s sneak. (Dineen, p.  1071)  
snagán, -áin, pl. id., m., a slow creeping  motion.
In the old ward heeler (éilitheoir) Harry Hope's  joint  in the 1910 New York 
City slum (saol luim),  Rocky, the Sicilian American bartender and part time  
pimp, grumbles (gruaim béil) in the early 20th century hybrid  dialect of the 
underworld of the poor.   

ROCKY: “Hickey promisin’ he’d cut out de bughouse bull about peace – and  
den he went on talkin’ and talkin’ like he couldn’t stop! And all de gang  
sneakin' upstairs, leavin’ free booze and eats like dey was  poison.”   (Iceman 
Cometh, p. 665)  
In O'Neill's Ah Wilderness, the character of the middle class  teenage 
Richard  is partially based on the young Eugene O'Neill  himself. Like many teenage 
boys,  Richard is sneakin around with his  girlfriend 
RICHARD: “Right now’s the best chance for me to get away – while everyone’s 
 out! Ma’ll be coming back soon and she’ll be watching me like a cat – (He  
starts for the back parlor) I’m going. I’ll sneak  out the back.”  (Ah 
Wilderness, p. 105).
MacBain's Gaelic Etymological Dictionary compares  the Scots-Gaelic snàig 
with the English sneak and  snake and the Irish snaighim.    "Snàig,  creep; from 
Scottish snaik, sneak in walking, etc., snaikin,  sneaking, English sneak, 
snake. Cf. Irish  snaighim, I creep." MacBain's Gaelic Etymological  Dictionary, 
Sec. 35.
Modern English cultural nationalist discourse, disguised  as academic 
discourse, allows  for no hint of Celtic  language influence on the secretly hybrid, 
imperial tongue of  Oxford-English and mirrors the  systematic elision  of  
England's own ancient Celtic roots. It is the  sad result of a lingering 
hangover from hundreds of years  of overindulgence in the dark draiocht (witchcraft)  
of scientific racism, which arose from these  same universities in the  19th 
and 20th  centuries.   
The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology opts for an obscure  origin in Old 
English.  “Sneak...probably of dialectical origin; related  obscurely to 
early Middle English snike, Old English snican, creep, crawl, Old  Norse, snkija.” 
(ODEE, p. 840).    
The new old-boys of Oxford sneak around the Irish and  Scots-Gaelic words in 
their own English gobs  (cab, mouth; do chab, your  mouth.)  Sooner or later 
-- as with the six occupied northeastern counties  of Ireland -- they will have 
no choice but to "cough it  up." Until then English discourse will continue 
to choke on the  Celtic language words stuck in its  own throat.

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