Is it illegal to mispronounce Arkansas while in Arkansas? It may seem illogical and a ridiculous question to ask, but the name of the state, and its spelling has a habit of confusing those less familiar with the US state. For instance Arkansas is pronounced completely differently to Kansas, where Arkansas is formed using the French pronunciation and Kansas uses the English way of pronunciation. As many US residents already know, Arkansas is actually pronounced Ar-kan-saw, not Ar-kan-sas.
The reason we asked this question is because we noticed it pop up on our radar. At first glimpse we thought, “yeah, it’s possible. Lets investigate further.” So we did, and the first site we discovered seemed to confirm the claim that it is illegal to mispronounce Arkansas while in Arkansas. That’s when we began to write this article. But hold up one minute. While we usually include one link as a source, we look further and deeper to see if the fact is actually fact of myth. That’s what this appears to be. Pure myth. So how do we know it’s a myth and not a fact? We looked at the official documentation.
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We can see how this internet myth began. It was a simple misunderstanding that turned into a worldwide phenomenon. It looks as though someone misread the Arkansas Code (Title 1, Chapter 4, Section 105) which specifically addresses the pronunciation of the state name.
While reading the section it delves methodically into how to correctly pronounce the name of Arkansas. The confusion arises due to its French spelling, and should be pronounced in the French form.
While one will at first reading of the section think it’s illegal to mispronounce Arkansas while in Arkansas, they must pay particularly close attention to the opening lines and final few words of the section. The first line of the section of the law states the pronunciation of the state “in oral official proceedings,” meaning it pertains to official use. Whereas the final few words clearly state “the terminal “s” is an innovation to be discouraged.” DISCOURAGED, not illegal.
So while it’s not illegal to mispronounce Arkansas while in Arkansas, we would discourage pronouncing it incorrectly while in the presence of an old timer.