E 0841††††††††† SNAKE,(TO) SNEAK

The noun " snake " and the verb " to sneak " are of Germanic origin .

H 0646†††††††††ש ח נ

Concept of root : snake

Hebrew word

pronunciation

English meanings

ש ח נ

naghash

snake

Related English words

snake, to sneak

Comparison between European words and Hebrew

Languages

Words

Pronunciation

English meanings

Similarity in roots

Hebrew

ש ח נ

naghash

snake

n . gh . sh

Old Indian

n‚gah, nāgá-

nagah

snake

n . g . h

Old English

snaca;

snican ;

snagl, snegl

snake;

to crawl ;

snail

sn . c .

-

sn . g . l

Middle English

snake;

snegge, snail

snake;

snail

sn . k .;

sn . g .

sn . (*g)l

English

snake ;

to sneak

snake ;

to sneak

sn . k .

German

Schnecke

shnecke

snail

sn . ck .

Old Norse

snāk-r ; snigill

snāk-r ;

snigil

snake;

snail

sn . k

sn . g . l

Swedish

snok;

snigel;

snigla

snok;

snigel;

snigla

snake; snail; to crawl, sneak

sn . k

sn . g . l

 

 

Proto-Semitic *NAGHASH --- *NĀG- Indo-European

 

 

The main difference between the Indo-European words and Hebrew lies in the final SH of the last. English has added an initial S without changing the meaning. This is frequent in Germanic tongues. The root perhaps has a basic indication regarding characteristics snakes and snails have. One may well ask if this refers to going without feet and low against the ground or going in a "sneaky" way. This is a rather common line of thought, that supposes an Indo-European root "*sneg" meaning "to creep". Alas, this is obviously wrong, as the S is not found in Old Indian and Hebrew and has not disappeared from there. It has been added in Germanic as we pointed out. The ancient root would thus have been "*neg", or as we would say "N G" or "N GH". This we can find in entry E 0451 (Hebrew 0648).

 

In Hebrew we find with the same three consonants N GH SH words indicating "foretelling", "magic tricks", but also "copper" or "bronze" and "menstruation". One would have to phantasize considerably to see a common denominator for all this. We must assume that there are different origins leading to identical-sounding roots. Meanwhile the first group, that with the magic, is possibly based on old images of the snake as such. But this is uncertain. See further the note on Hebrew hereunder.

 

 

Note:
  • Hebrew has more than one two-consonant combinations "* N GH", that have given birth two various three-consonant-roots. Very important for a proper understanding of the problem of the snake in this entry is the root " נ ח ת , naghat = to get down" . This is an indication that the lowly position of a snake has played a decisive role in giving it its name. See entry E 0451 (Hebrew 0648).

 

Note:
  • Proto-Semitic Proto-Semitic is seen as having the same root found in Hebrew : "* נ ח ש , N GH SH". Interesting is the Arabic word "ghanash = snake", that shows a metathesis in relation to Hebrew.

     

    It is quite possible, but we have no certainty, that "naghash", together with the just mentioned "naghat", has developed out of an earlier "* נ ח ה , N GH H (accentuated vowel), naghà".

 

Note:
  • English and German. Snail is a diminutive, that German no more uses. On the other hand German also has a different word for "snake": "Schlange", based on Old High German "slango" and akin to Old Norse "slange" and Dutch "slang". This word is certainly related to the verb that indicates the kind of movement snakes make, "schlingen" from Old High German "slingen" and a sister of Old English "slingan" = "winding, twisting".

 

Note:
  • Proto-Germanic The examples from Swedish and Old Norse, that have their relatives especially in older Nordic languages, show how words for "snail" are diminutives on the basis of the same root that is used to indicate "snake" and " to sneak". Obviously English "snail" is a diminutive. In German and its predecessors we find both the diminutive form as a lengthened standard form : Old High German had "sneggo" and "snegil" for "snail". In modern German the diminutive is used in some dialects only. The initial "S" is there in all words and may have been introduced, but anyhow was already present in Proto-Germanic. Presumably the form was "*SN Ā K-". Upon adding a diminutive suffix, this changed into "*SN È G-" and later in individual tongues also into "*SN Ĭ G-".

 

Note:
  • Indo-European Old Indian "nāgá = snake", in comparison with the Germanic words of the table, indicates that Proto-Germanic had added a neutral prefix " S " to an existing Indo-European root. It is possible that this was just "*N Ā G", valid for both "snakes" and "snails". The " K " in "snake" can be a Germanic development, in which the final " G " was maintained for the smaller and slower "sneaker, creeper". A rather obvious exception is then German that made also here a "K" out of that "G" in "Schnecke".

     

    We note that for "snail" there is in Indo-European another root, found in Latin "limax", that has its cognates in Greek and also in Slavic that has added like Germanic so often does, an initial "S" as in Russian ""slimakj".

     

    For both types of animals there are not fully unsimilar Germanic words that begin with "SL-", such as Old Saxon, Old North Franconian and Old High German "slango = snake" and Dutch "slang = snake" and "slak = snail".

 

 

 

 

 
Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: Thursday 7 February 2013 at 16.01.56