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An Arkansas oddity.


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#1 TheSecret

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 07:16 PM

At first glance, it would appear that Arkansas should be pronounced how it looks. Ar-can-sez. Instead, it is pronounced rather contrarily, as Ar-can-saw. Apparently, the current pronunciation comes from the original native american word. The pronunciation was made official in the late 1800's after a disagreement between senators, with the current pronunciation obviously winning. My question, is despite it being made official, why did the current pronunciation prevail? People have a tendency to pronounce and spell things how they seem or think they should be, until they are educated otherwise. There are plenty of examples of incorrect spelling and pronunciation in the masses, even today. So in an age without instant communication, and a significantly lower literacy level, why did the correct yet contrary pronunciation prevail, and how did it spread? edit: I am referring to 100 years ago or so, and states on the other side of the country such as New York and Pennsylvania where most communication would be written, and so it would make sense that the word was pronounced as it appeared...

Edited by TheSecret, 31 July 2009 - 07:23 PM.

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#2 NagChampa

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 07:20 PM

Most people learn spoken words before they are written. A kid is going to learn he's from Ar-can-saw before he knows how to spell it.
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#3 smadge1

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 07:22 PM

I hate how some people pronounce Mall like Mal
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#4 TheSecret

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 07:22 PM

That is true, but I am referring to around 100 years ago, in states such as New York and Pennsylvania, where for the most part they would have received written communication, and so pronounced it as it appeared...
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. - Tolstoy

#5 1shot1kill

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 07:24 PM

At first glance, it would appear that Arkansas should be pronounced how it looks. Ar-can-sez.


I reckon that on first glance it should be pronounced ar-can-sass.
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#6 TheSecret

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 07:26 PM

At first glance, it would appear that Arkansas should be pronounced how it looks. Ar-can-sez.


I reckon that on first glance it should be pronounced ar-can-sass.


Or ar-can-sas. Sure, I was just trying to use an example that highlighted what I meant without relying on the original spelling...

A minor point....
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#7 smadge1

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 07:27 PM

and yet Kansas is pronounced how it's spelt
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#8 NagChampa

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 07:27 PM

Bli Bli is pronounced as Bly Bly, not Blee Blee, but most people who don't know that still read it as Blee Blee. The people who are in the know correct people when they are wrong. It's especially easier to spread the correct pronunciation when it's been enacted in law.
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#9 eveln

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 07:31 PM

It's pronounced Ar-can-saw... So who's responsible for the spelling... Arkansas ?

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#10 TheSecret

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 07:36 PM

smadge1, See, Arcansas was pronounced the way it looks for a while at least, but the senator who thought it should be pronounced the way it is one the debate... Arkansas derives from the same root as the word Kansas...I''m guessing there was not the same disagreement in Kansas, and so it was not an issue.
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#11 eveln

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 08:03 PM

smadge1,

See, Arcansas was pronounced the way it looks for a while at least, but the senator who thought it should be pronounced the way it is one the debate...

Arkansas derives from the same root as the word Kansas...I''m guessing there was not the same disagreement in Kansas, and so it was not an issue.


Apparently, the current pronunciation comes from the original native american word


am confused...

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#12 TheSecret

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 08:05 PM

am confused...


What about?
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#13 1shot1kill

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 08:11 PM

What about?


A senator thought it should be pronounced the way it is, yet that very same pronunciation comes from native American pronunciation. I can see how it's confusing.
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#14 eveln

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 08:12 PM

am confused...


What about?


So, the senator won, and the pronunciation Ar-can-saw became the thing. That's the original American Indian
pronunciation.. right ?

So, who spelt it ---sas ?

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#15 TheSecret

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 08:14 PM

Well, OK. I don't know why the senator thought it should be pronounced the way it is, and wasn't able to find much info on it.

Kansas derives from the name for the Kansa tribe, while Arkansas is apparently a French pronunciation of the name of a saw tribe, whose name derives from the same root as that of the name for the Kansa tribe...

Although, that only adds to the confusion....

edit:

Eveln,

As far as the spelling goes, the s on the end is silent, which is not the case with Kansas. This is possibly due to the French influence?

This means it should be pronounced so as to sound like ar-ken-sah, and with accents has evolved to sound like ar-ken-saw...

From here:

The name Arkansas is taken from the Arkansas River, which is named for the Native Americans of the Arkansa tribe. The s was added as a plural, though it remains silent in the pronunciation formally adopted by the state’s legislature.


So we have the information as to why the disparity, but not as to why the contrary pronunciation did not take off...

Edited by TheSecret, 31 July 2009 - 08:19 PM.

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. - Tolstoy

#16 Kimmo

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 11:48 PM

I fail to see where the discrepancy lies between low literacy levels and the popularisation of a counter-intuitive pronunciation; makes perfect sense to me.

#17 just_some_guy

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 11:50 PM

You just watched Sweet Home Alabama on the teev, didn't you :)
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#18 TheSecret

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 11:50 PM

How does that make perfect sense? If people have low literacy levels, and don't know that the s should be silent, would they not be more inclined to produce it how it reads? Hell, I have an excellent grasp of English, and if I still come across a word I am completely unfamiliar with, can trip up in it's pronunciation...
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. - Tolstoy

#19 Kimmo

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 12:14 AM

Call me crazy if you like, but I figure since they can't read, the silent s is hardly gonna bother em, and they'll just say it like they hear it said.

But more seriously, literacy is only gonna hinder an uninformed attempt to pronounce Arkansas, since it's a unique instance of this foible.

Edited by Kimmo, 01 August 2009 - 12:16 AM.


#20 TheSecret

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 12:20 AM

Lower literacy does not necessarily mean no reading skills at all.... Even so, if they were literate and received a written communique, why would they know that the s was silent?
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. - Tolstoy




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