What's-a Motto With You? Washington's Motto

I live in WA state, for those of you who don't know. As a lover of stats and historical stuff and languages, I just found myself caught up in Washington State's motto -- or rather, its lack of one.


Yes, Washington State doesn't have a state motto. That was news to me. We do have a territorial motto, though: Alki, or Al-ki, from the Chinook language. It means "by and by," as in, "I'll see you later." The concept translates to hope for the future. Pretty cool, yesno?

But wait, there's more statehood motto geekiness ahead! See, this is what happens when you enjoy the craziness that is hyperfocus. I apologize in advance if you're getting American History classroom flashbacks.

Washington State's motto is only four letters long, tied with Rhode Island's "Hope" for the shortest state motto on record.

Our motto is the only one taken from the Chinook language (not really a surprise), and the only one taken from any Native American language. Only three other mottos are rendered in different languages. The vast majority of state mottos are given in English, and many of those also have Latin translations, because nothing says awesome on a state seal like a dead language. Montana's motto is translated into in Spanish, Minnesota's into French, and Hawaii's is rendered in Hawaiian, with English translation, because haoles can suck it. Hang loose, brah!

I found it interesting that Washington State's motto is also one of only three mottos that, like Hawaii's, is put in a language other than English first, with the translation (if any) second. These are:

Alki (WA) -- because we don't need to use any more letters, thanks anyway.
Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono (HI) -- from memory! The first Hawaiian words I ever learned.
Excelsior (NY) -- that's Latin, btw, and no, they don't bother translating it, because New York.

1 comment:

  1. You left out Virginia; Sic Semper Tyrannis (Thus Always To Tyrants)