Kansans generally pronounce the name of the Arkansas River as Ar-KAN-zus, though there are some who don’t. These folks who don’t usually are recent arrivals in the Kansas City suburbs. The town on the Arkansas River called Arkansas City is pronounced Ar-KAN-zus by those who live there. The state of Arkansas is always pronounced Ar-kan-SAW by Kansans, at least as far as I know.

further perpetuating the eternal debate—

Never say things like “always” or “never”, Lawrence. I was out with a Kansan one time who didn’t prounce it Ar-kan-SAW… he pronounced it Arkkk-ark-arkk-arkkk-in-shaw. But he’d had about six vodka martinis. See, how you shouldn’t generalize?

OK, Dext, in the future I promise to say “this is true (except for people who are incredibly drunk)”

Well, by the deaf it’s always fingerspelled the same. spiffy. Shoot, I can hardly manage a fair interpretation of dictionary ways of pronouncing stuff:

Ar•kan•sas "ar-ken-'so; 1 is also ar-"kan-zes
1 river 1450 mi (2334 km) SW cen U.S. rising in cen Colo. & flowing E & SE through S Kans., NE Okla., & Ark. into the Mississippi
2 state S cen U.S. * Little Rock area 53,104 sq mi (138,070 sq km), pop 2,350,725
Ar•kan•san \ar-"kan-zen\ adjective or noun

©1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. All rights reserved.

Shit, th’ gol-dang river is Ar-KAN-zus, the friggin’ state is Ar-kan SAW. Goddam East Coast liberals and Hollywood Commies screwing everything up. God bless America.

Except, of course, by Kansans speaking to Arkansans (which IS always arKANsans) with the intent to piss them off, i.e. “So, why do you all marry your relatives here in ArKANsas?”


There’s a similar situation that exists between the citizens of Houston and New York City. New Yorkers pronounce Houston “Howston”, as in Houston Street, a.k.a., the border of SoHo. We Houstonians, of course, think they’re idiots. We pronounce it Huestun, like Sam Houston, the guy it’s named after.