Humor: Our motto's better than your motto

"Not so fast" ("Alki," more or less) has a nice ring to it, fitting for our dispassionate state and these hard times. Other states' sayings are "not so swift."
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Alki Beach: Hold up

"Not so fast" ("Alki," more or less) has a nice ring to it, fitting for our dispassionate state and these hard times. Other states' sayings are "not so swift."

I seldom boast about Washington state, but we do have the best motto. Our state motto is 'ꀜAlki,'ꀝ from Chinook jargon meaning, roughly, 'ꀜHold on,'ꀝ or 'ꀜNot so fast.'ꀝ

'ꀜAlki'ꀝ may also be translated as 'ꀜby and by.'ꀝ During the Eisenhower years, a group of legislative prudes, all of whom had served as hall monitors in junior high school, attempted to introduce the odious mistranslation, 'ꀜhope for the future.'ꀝ Speakers of Chinook jargon quickly exposed this fraud with the withering comment, 'ꀜMan kloshe kopa yaka lepush pe klale kopa yaka tumtum,'ꀝ which is loosely translated as 'ꀜwhite man speaks with forked tongue.'ꀝ

'ꀜNot so fast'ꀝ is an appropriate motto for a skeptical, dispassionate, and detached state. 'ꀜNot so fast'ꀝ is a far better response to almost any phenomenon than other state mottos. Consider how well it works in response to a typical headline, 'ꀜGovernor to Call Special Legislative Session.'ꀝ How much better it is, for instance, than:

  • Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable — North Dakota
  • By the Sword We Seek Peace, but Peace Only Under Liberty — Massachusetts
  • Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain — Iowa
  • With God All Things Are Possible — Ohio

Most state mottos sound like slogans of failed student council candidates. The South is still fighting the Civil War:

  • We Defend Our Rights — Alabama
  • By Valor and Arms — Mississippi
  • Thus Always To Tyrants — Virginia

Many mottos appear to have been chosen off flip charts at a Vision and Values Workshop facilitated by a highly compensated consultant:

  • Hope — Rhode Island
  • Forward — Wisconsin
  • Equal Rights — Wyoming
  • Industry — Utah
  • Ever Upward — New York

Some celebrate the irony that prison inmates stamp their state'ꀙs slogan on license plates:

  • Liberty and Independence — Delaware
  • Live Free or Die — New Hampshire
  • Liberty and Prosperity — New Jersey

The Midwest boasts of its banality:

  • Indiana: The Crossroads of America
  • Kansas: To The Stars Through Difficulties
  • Michigan: If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula, Look Around You.

A few appear to relish a local joke that the rest of us don'ꀙt get:

  • Idaho: Let It Be Perpetual
  • Puerto Rico: John Is His Name

I worry that other states may compete with Washington'ꀙs 'ꀜNot so fast'ꀝ by adopting more contemporary mottos:

  • Alabama: Whoa!
  • California: Like, Whatever
  • New York: Up Yours
  • Georgia: As If
  • Oregon: I Don'ꀙt Think So
  • South Carolina: Duh!
  • Idaho: Drive, Drink, and Text

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