Sunday, 23 October 2011

Mondays with Crazy English

Is it a word, a phrase, an abbreviation, an acronym? How do you spell it? O.K., OK, o.k, or okay? Anyway, it is the most successful Americanism of all time that has spread to many languages. America’s greatest contribution to the English language and its origin was the subject of linguistic debate for many years.
There is even an expert on OK, a historian of this most famous expression, Columbia University professor Allen Walker Read, who decided that the word was first used in 1839 as a humourous abbreviation. President Martin Van Buren, nicknamed Old Kinderhook, was supported by OK Clubs. Old Kinderhook lost, but OK remained However, until 1900 OK remained obscure. Even Mark Twain apparently never used it and Jerome K. Jerome used his humour to emphasize the British reaction towards the American infiltration.

by Jerome K. Jerome (1859 – 1927)

Now, Charles had been brought with care
At number 12 Begonia Square,
And taught when still extremely young
Not to misuse the English tongue.
No words unfit for him to hear
Had ever reached his shielded ear.
For instance, such disgusting slang
As “Gosh” and “Golly”, “Blow” and “Hang”.
Imagine therefore what a pang
His learned father felt one day
When Charles distinctly said “O.K.”
The horrid habit grew and grew;
It seemed the only word he knew;
Whatever he was asked to do —
To eat or drink, to work or play —
All Charles could answer was “OKAY”!
“Charles!” cried his father in amaze,
“When did you learn that vulgar phrase?
Refrain from using it, I pray.”
And meekly Charles replied: “OKAY”  

Now we live in an OK world!
Is it a noun, an adjective, a verb, an interjection, an adverb? It’s all that in colloquial English:
The approving of an action, especially when done by one in authority
The act or process of accepting
To give one's consent  
It is so; as you say or ask  
Of moderately good quality but less than excellent  
Denotes compliance or agreement
Shows sarcasm, doubt or seeks confirmation, assent or approval

How do you find the information? Is it OK? 

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