Surprising Laws from the Past: How To Officially Pronounce “Arkansas”

We generally use the blog as a space to keep our friends, family, clients, and community informed. We especially like to highlight laws – such as those against texting and driving or when pedestrians have the right-of-way – that promote safety and reward awareness.

Today we’ve decided to cull from our state’s rich history those Arkansas laws, codes, and ordinances that have fallen by the wayside and that, while still technically on the books, seem outdated and often hilarious by today’s standards.

First in this new series is the officially sanctioned pronunciation of the Arkansas state name, from Little Rock city leaders in 1881:

Arkansas Code § 1-4-105. “Be it therefore resolved by both houses of the General Assembly, that the only true pronunciation of the name of the state, in the opinion of this body, is that received by the French from the native Indians and committed to writing in the French word representing the sound. It should be pronounced in three (3) syllables, with the final “s” silent, the “a” in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables. The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of “a” in “man” and the sounding of the terminal “s” is an innovation to be discouraged.”

(“Ar-kan-saw” is a French pronunciation of a Siouxan word meaning “land of downriver people” and pronunciation was officially established as a resolution in 1881. No punishment is enforced for mispronunciation.)

We hope this new, lighthearted series gives you a chuckle; it certainly did us!

Sources: Virtually Legal, Digest of the Laws and Ordinances of the City of Little Rock

Print Friendly, PDF & Email