Sunday, January 24, 2021

What do you mean ‘It’s ok?’

We all use it everyday and wherever we go we are still understood when we utter “OK” or when we give its physical interpretation of the thumb and little finger touching to form a circle with the other three fingers pointing straight upwards.

Even a supermarket and furniture store took the famous word for their enterprise.

OK has been described as ‘America’s export’, one which has achieved near-universal acceptance. In every continent, the word, or word semblance rather, has been used and accepted to mean almost the same thing, depending, of course, on the context it has been used in.

The colloquial English word denoting approval, assent, or acknowledgment that has been a loanword from English for many other languages, says Wikipedia without giving any citation; “As an adjective it means ‘adequate’, ‘acceptable’ (“this is okay to send out”), often in contrast to ‘good’ (“the food was okay”); it also functions as an adverb in this sense. As an interjection, it can denote compliance (“Okay, I will do that”), agreement (“Okay, that’s good”), a wish to defuse a situation or calm someone (“It’s okay, it’s not that bad”).”

But again you have used OK, or okay in other means, like saying, “I am going okay, no broken leg will stop me from attending my sister’s wedding.” The site asserts that in a case such as this one OK is being used as a grammatical particle where “it does not modify any other particular word, but rather reinforces the general point being made, particularly if that point is being called into question”.

For a word so popularly used and universal, OK’s origins have been in question for many years today and still remain in dispute. According to an online site, the expression “O.K.” was made in the U.S.A. early in the 19th century, and since then it has been incorporated into nearly every language on earth. Spread worldwide by American soldiers serving overseas, by diplomats, students, tourists, newspapers, literature, film, and television.

The Oxford Dictionary of English says that the origin of “O.K.” is generally dated to the mid 19th century, “probably an abbreviation of orl korrect, humourous form of all correct, popularized as a slogan during President Van Buren’s re-election campaign of 1840; his nickname Old Kinderhook (derived from his birth place) provided the initials”. When it first appeared as an abbreviation for “Orl Korrect,” a comic phonetic spelling of the phrase “All correct,” others claim the earliest use of the expression was in a 1790 court record from Summer County, Tennessee, discovered in 1859 by a Tennessee historian named Albigence Waldo Putnam, in which Andrew Jackson apparently said: “…proved a bill of sale from Hugh McGary to Gasper Mansker, for a Negro man, which was O.K.”

The assertion was later refuted because the document was handwritten and not printed; the OK was discovered to be a poorly written OR, an abbreviation for “Order Recorded”. An analysis was done again and it supported the theory of the OR inscription.

OK’s origins can also be traced to the ‘OK Club’, a political committee supporting Martin Van Buren’s unsuccessful bid for the Presidency in 1840. The “O.K.,” it is said, was short for “Old Kinderhook,” Van Buren’s nickname. It appears that this theory is not so much wrong (the “O.K. Club” certainly existed). Chances are good the Van Buren’s partisans would never have named their club “O.K.” had the phrase not already been widely known as an abbreviation of “orl korrect,” a humorous misspelling of “all correct.”
While “O.K.” didn’t save Van Buren’s campaign, the campaign gave “O.K.” a new lease on life ÔÇö until then, it had never been as popular as a competing phrase.

What is widely regarded as the earliest known example of the modern “ok” being set down on paper is a quintessential “we arrived OK” notation in the hand-written diary of William Richardson going from Boston to New Orleans in 1815, about a month after the Battle of New Orleans. One entry says “we traveled on to N. York where we arrived all well, at 7 P.M.”

By most reckonings a later similar entry uses “ok” in place of “all well”: “Arrived at Princeton, a handsome little village, 15 miles from N Brunswick, ok & at Trenton, where we dined at 1 P.M.” The original “ok &” was edited to read “o.k. and” in the print publication and that rendering was widely accepted at the time., however, asserts that OK was adapted from other languages, presumably through misinterpretation, like the Choctaw-Chickasaw okah meaning “it is indeed”; or from a mishearing of the Scots och aye! ; Or perhaps Ulster Scots Ough aye! “yes, indeed!”; and from West African languages like Mandingo O ke, meaning “certainly” or from the Finnish oikea, meaning “correct, exact”.

However it came to be and wherever it came from, OK is in many words exactly what the best manufactured product aspires to be – adoptable by everyone; adaptable to numerous locales and disparate requirements; and, once accepted, so much a part of people’s lives that they can’t remember how they ever managed without it.
As for me, it is OK to use it whenever I need to!

The word is okay! Ok?


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