I have an Akita named Kal. I picked up Kal for the first time during preproduction for Batman v Superman. I got him in Arkansas, which I was sure was pronounced “Ar-Kansas” before I got there. I said it in front of lots and lots of people, but no one corrected me until I actually got to Arkansas, and they said, “Oh yeah, it’s ‘Arkansaw,’ not ‘Ar-Kansas.’ ” I thought, “Thanks, everyone else who’s heard me say that.”
Its one of those questions everybody comes up with once. Its also one of those questions people think are inane, trivial, and irrelevant.
Why is Arkansas pronounced “Arkansaw?” And why isn’t Kansas pronounced “Kansaw?” According to Mark Stein’s book, “How the States Got Their Shapes,” The Native Americans living in the area were called Kansa. The s was added to make the word plural and thus the state name Kansas was created. Similarly, Arkansas was named after the Arkansa people as well as the Arkansa River. They made the word plural, but the damned French kept their pronunciation; ending up with the silent s.
If you enjoy reading about little facts that no one gives a shit about (albeit interesting ones), I recommend Stein’s book. I know I will be annoying and alienating lots more friends in the coming years thanks to him.
For those who are confused about “Arkansas” and “Kansas”
“The word “Arkansas” itself is a French pronunciation (“Arcansas”) of a Quapaw (a related “Kaw” tribe) word, akakaze, meaning “land of downriver people” or the Sioux word akakaze meaning “people of the south wind”.” Ar-kan-saw can be blamed on the french.
“Kansas is named for the Kansas River, which is named for the Kansa tribe. It’s the English spelling though, so naturally, we pronounce the final “s.”
“ And Kan-sas can be blamed on the english.
Arkansas and Kansas are not pronounced the same way.
But why is this the case? Because of the French and
Kanasas was named after a Sioux tribe called the Kansa. The Kansa had like 500 different names cause everyone called them something different but eventually Kansas was the most popular name and stuck.
Arkansas was named for a related Sioux tribe called Quapaw. The Algonquians called them Arkansa, using Kansa and slapping their a- prefix on there, but the French name, Arcansas, became the name for the region. After the Louisiana Purchase and Americans moved in Arcansas became Arkansas.
But despite the facts Arkansas citizens actually argued the correct pronunciation until 1881 when the state legislation made “ARkansaw” the official pronunciation. (Though apparently people in Kansas call it “ArKANzis”)