Vo­cab

Friday - - Mind Games -

We were look­ing at the ori­gins of the ubiq­ui­tous ‘okay’ last week. The­o­ries abound: -it was an ab­bre­vi­a­tion used by lum­ber­men who cut oak trees for fur­ni­ture. The best qual­ity oak was “Oak A”; ● it comes from a Choctaw In­dian word spelled “Okeh”, mean­ing “it is”; ● it rep­re­sented the ini­tials of a rail­road clerk, Oba­diah Kelly, who stamped OK on parcels for ship­ment; ● it orig­i­nates from the prac­tice of des­ig­nat­ing ba­nanas with­out flaws as au quai – that is, ready to go to the quay for load­ing.

But the largest fol­low­ing among word au­thor­i­ties is that the gen­e­sis of OK can be found in the name of the O.K. Demo­cratic Club, a group that dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of 1840 used the sym­bol O.K. as its ral­ly­ing slo­gan on be­half of Martin Van Buren, who had adopted the nick­name “Old Kin­der­hook” to re­fer to his birth­place near Al­bany.

Some OK-re­lated in­ter­est­ing pop­cul­tural ref­er­ences: ● I’m OK, You’re OK by Thomas An­thony Har­ris is one of the best sell­ing self-help books ever pub­lished, be­ing a prac­ti­cal guide to Trans­ac­tional Anal­y­sis as a method for solv­ing prob­lems in life. ● Rodgers and Ham­mer­stein de­clared Ok­la­homa in song to be OK! in their epony­mous 1943 mu­si­cal Ok­la­homa! ● Trivia alert – there is only one town named Okay in all of the USA and that’s in Ok­la­homa. Cool, isn’t it? ● Then there’s also the OK Cor­ral in Tomb­stone, Ari­zona – but in this case, ‘OK’ stands for Old Kin­der­s­ley. The in­fa­mous 1881 shootout that sup­pos­edly took place there ac­tu­ally oc­curred a lit­tle fur­ther down the road.

In­ter­na­tion­ally, OK has trav­elled re­mark­ably well on the wings of Amer­i­can popular cul­ture – and found a niche in the dig­i­tal era, fit­ting eas­ily into 140-character Twit­ter and text mes­sages. Us­ing Google Glass eyewear, in fact, calls for a voice com­mand that be­gins: “OK, Google Glass”, just as you need to say “Okay, Google” to be­gin a voice search.

“It’s a nice, short ab­bre­vi­a­tion and it fits abbreviations in other lan­guages”, says in­ter­na­tional OK ex­pert Met­calf. “It’s dis­tinc­tive, yet eas­ily pro­nounced and read­ily un­der­stood”.

It looks like it’s here to stay, and we’re okay with that.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.