Almost every language has an O vowel, a K consonant, and an A vowel. So OK is a very distinctive combination of very familiar elements. And that’s one reason it’s so successful. OK stands apart. Visually, OK pairs the completely round O with the completely straight lines of K. But, the word almost easily slip from the mouth.
OK was born 172 years ago in the Boston Morning Post of March 23, 1839, when the editor was engaging in a fad at the time — creating humorous abbreviations. He wrote in the middle of a paragraph, “o.k. — all correct.” It took off. March 23, 2011 was officially proposed and is since then celebrated as OK Day by Allan Metcalf, author of “OK; The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word”. It’s also found on Facebook. This year, everyone should go around saying OK, and I’m sure that they will because they say OK every day.
I learnt in French class that ok comes from when the ships would return from sea. The French would say “au quai” which translates to “at the dock”. When a ship was “au quai” everyone had made it home safely and they were ok.
- Native American Choctaw: Okeh – it is so
- Scottish: Och aye – oh yes
- Greek: Ola kala – all is right
- German: ohne Korrektur – without [need for] correction
- Finnish: Oikea – correct
- Mandinka: O ke – that’s it
Most of us have unusual speech habits. Once you take note of it, it’s hard to not listen for it as someone is talking to you. OK is a verbal twitch which is interesting to witness in others and oneself. Argh! Monitoring one’s speech is an ongoing battle against self. With appropriate voice tone—such as sarcasm or a questioning tone—to show doubt or to seek confirmation or assent or approval or simple wave-off! Everyone has words or phrases that they over use, you know what I am saying. It’s like, you know, we all say something over and over, you know what I saying.
Is OK ok?