What's in a Name #9: Skaneateles

Editor's Note: Curt and Toni over at Blog Skaneateles have sent in this submission to provoke our thoughts on perhaps U-NY's hardest-to-pronounce named town: Skaneateles. You should also check out their relatively new blog: Blog Skaneateles. For your convenience, their link has been added to our blogroll. If place names spark your curiosity, check out our other editions of What's in a Name?

Skaneateles; Skan E or Skinny? The debate rages.

One thing all York Staters have in common is Indian. American Indianthat is. And specifically The Iroquois Confederacy. [Remember the SixNations from High School history?]

For most of you, this is not a Big Deal. Happily, you live in a Genesee,or Cayuga, or Onondaga. Not so for us; we have an identity crisis in the StoryBook Village.

What we know for sure is that after the American Revolution we were broke, so we gave away land grants in Upstate New York to everybody we owed money to. As an aside we also know the beaurocratic clerk who drew up the maps was an aficionado of Roman History. [Thus all the Brutus's and Cato's and Marcellus's.] We also know that the owners of the Land Grants didn't want them, so they sold them. Cheap.

In the Finger Lakes area virtually everything is Indian or Roman. For sure Skaneateles is Indian. Conventional wisdom is that it means "long,beautiful lake" but there is another argument it means " squaw who likesto make of babies". Ha! I lake the latter.

However, the Debate about Skaneateles.

Is it Skan-E-At-Las or Skinny-Atlas? I have lived here for 56 years andI say SKAN. Any linguists out there?

-Curt and Toni

You can make check availability and make reservations on line at ourwebpage www.skaneatelessuites.com. It is safe and easy!


Jesse said...

Growing up near Binghamton, I'd always heard it "Skinny-at-less" though the funniest interpretation I've heard was by a Virginian I know who called it "Skin-Ee-tles" (rhymes with 'Beatles') in a thick Southern twang. Though I suppose if we're exaggerating our Upstate "A" accent then SkAn-e-At-las gives us a chance to hurt the ears of downstaters three times in a single word. That power should never be underestimated.

joe said...

Growing up near binghamton I'd always heard it both ways. I'm sure of the two there isn't a proper way either, since onondaga or 'six nations proper' uses a ton of modifiers. Whatever words make up 'Skaneateles' I figure they've been butchered into what we have now like most indian place names throughout central NY.

Actually, I've seen 'Skaneatles'- with a missing 'e', and figure that's used as much as the way y'all spelled it here.

joe said...

an interesting note... I don't think this is the basis for the name, but I do like latin and this word has a common latin suffix... I actually found the word: Scaenatilis, in my dictionary. Which also has a nice meaning in reference to the picturesque lake and town:

Scaena- background of natural scenery.
+ Atilis- large area of natural scenery.

Curt Feldmann said...

You guys are great, 3 replys to a hastily written blog!

Just so you know, I have two motivations here; I am in love with my communty and I am promoting our business, Skaneateles Suites

For those of you who follow internet searches, there is a new concept called "local search". The idea is that when you search for "hotels" in a little Village like Skaneateles, you DON'T want to hear about Marriotts in Syracuse. [To see for yourself go to Superpages
and search for "hotels" in 13152]

The "fix" is to get more relevant local, quality links. Which is how I originally found York Staters.

But now that you are helping me, and, I actually care about York State and Skaneateles Village I have an offer to all: Come visit us in the StoryBook Village. We can talk about all-things-upstate and I will tell you about our "Secret Places".

For a cool price visit Hot Deals or call 315-685-7568 and ask for Curt