I seldom boast about Washington state, but we do have the best motto. Our state motto is “Alki,” from Chinook jargon meaning, roughly, “Hold on,” or “Not so fast.”
“Alki” may also be translated as “by and by.” 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, “hope for the future.” Speakers of Chinook jargon quickly exposed this fraud with the withering comment, “Man kloshe kopa yaka lepush pe klale kopa yaka tumtum,” which is loosely translated as “white man speaks with forked tongue.”
Alki is pretty cool. I like ‘Not so fast’ better than ‘by and by.’ Other state mottos are pretty funny, though.
Maryland for instance. ‘Manly deeds, Womanly words.’ Okay. How about Michigan. ‘Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice (If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you)’ Classic.
And reading about the controversial changes in Oregon’s motto (Alis volat propriis) is quite enlightening. And while the motto of Texas sounds like something a marketing consultant came up with (Friendship) it is actually derived from the Indian word meaning friends or allies which the Spanish pronounced as Tejas. So its motto is also the state’s name. Nice.