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Arkansas is typically pronounced like so:

“ahr-kuhn-saw”   IPA: [ˈɑɹkənˌsɔː]

However, Kansas is typically pronounced like this:

“kan-zuhs”             IPA: [ˈkænzɨs]

Why are these two words that are so similar in spelling pronounced so differently?

Both are apparently linked to “Native American” origins. So what’s the difference in the original usages?

closed as off-topic by Andrew Leach, RegDwigнt Nov 26 '13 at 12:07

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    Does the Wikipedia article not answer this? – Andrew Leach Nov 26 '13 at 8:15
  • 1
    Why are Waltham and Chatham not pronounced the same? Why don't cough and tough rhyme? – J.R. Nov 26 '13 at 9:49
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    I think the question is back-to-front: it should be, why are they spelled the same. – Gaston Ümlaut Nov 26 '13 at 10:43
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    @KronoS Basically because Kansas and Arkansas are based on different Algoquian exonyms for the Siouan tribes of the regions, kanza for the Kaw (in KS) and akakaze for the Quapaw (in AR). Arkansas is based on the French pronounciation of akakaze. Cf also the French spelling Ouichita in AR and the English Wichita in KS. – Mario Elocio Nov 26 '13 at 16:41
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    Wow I must admit. This appears to have been more controversial than I thought it'd be. – James Mertz Nov 28 '13 at 14:48