e-book OK: The Improbable Story of Americas Greatest Word

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Contents:


  1. The ‘O’ Word
  2. How 'OK' took over the world
  3. My Wishlist
  4. okekurywalaf.gq : Ok: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word () : : Books

He spells out the qualities that led to its survival in the cut-throat world of the verbal jungle. The first sighting was on March 23, , in italics in the Boston Morning Post. It was the US election campaign that made it go viral. President Martin Van Buren, a Democrat standing for a second term, was in his late fifties and hailed from the town of Kinderhook.

And kicked out poor Old Kinderhook was. OK itself had a new lease of life in the shape of another spoof, this time about the Democrat and former president General Jackson, a man of humble origins who was unfairly accused of being a remedial speller. This derivation was taken seriously and recycled somewhat inaccurately by, among others, the Boston Atlas — that is, in the town where the real OK had been created. All this added to the attractions of the neat, agreeable and positive word that soon became common currency in American and British life and art.

The great man had not quite got the hang of the word, since he used commas instead of the grammatically correct full stops. The word took some time to reach the upper classes, if we trust Julian Fellowes in his Gosford Park script. Asked if she is OK, a baffled countess needs her maid to interpret. Engine stop. It is "OK"-- the most ubiquitous and invisible of American expressions, one used countless times every day. Yet few of us know the secret history of OK--how it was coined, what it stood for, and the amazing extent of its influence. Allan Metcalf, a renowned popular writer on language, here traces the evolution of America's most popular word, writing with brevity and wit, and ranging across American history with colorful portraits of the nooks and crannies in which OK survived and prospered.

He describes how OK was born as a lame joke in a newspaper article in used as a supposedly humorous abbreviation for "oll korrect" ie, "all correct" --but should have died a quick death, as most clever coinages do. But OK was swept along in a nineteenth-century fad for abbreviations, was appropriated by a presidential campaign one of the candidates being called "Old Kinderhook" , and finally was picked up by operators of the telegraph. Over the next century and a half, it established a firm toehold in the American lexicon, and eventually became embedded in pop culture, from the "I'm OK, You're OK" of 's transactional analysis, to Ned Flanders' absurd "Okeley Dokeley!

Anyone who loves the life of words or the quirky corners of American culture will find this delightful book more than just OK. It has short chapters and pleasant subject matter. Immediately previous to this book, I read a harrowing war novel before sleeping. I had unpleasant nightmares about war as a result.

The ‘O’ Word

That's a testimony to the novel's power, I suppose, but sometimes I just want to have a good night's sleep. I didn't have any nightmares about OK while reading this book. Other reviews here that s I hope it doesn't sound patronizing or condescending to say this is a great light read before bedtime for language geeks. Other reviews here that say this book is basically a padded magazine article.

This is true. In some cases the padding was entertaining, so I didn't mind. I enjoyed reading about the transformation of OK through use, and about the incorrect theories of OK's origin. However, the chapter about Oklahoma and possibly others should have been left out. I would also like to have seen some research into how OK burrowed into foreign languages.

How did this happen? I would have like Metcalf to have chosen a couple of representative foreign languages as case studies. I would have like to have seen evidence and analysis of first usage in the language, subsequent evolution, etc. The language geek bedtime reader is just not a large enough demographic. Nov 22, Steven rated it liked it Shelves: history , language. I really, really wanted to give this two stars meaning "it was ok" , but I did like it a bit better than that.

Metcalf, a professor of English, delves into the history of the world's more recognizable "word," dispelling origin myths along the way.


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After describing the happy meeting of an s fad for initialisms, the presidential elections and an attempt at journalistic humor, he goes on to describe the many ways this seemingly innocuous word has made an impact on American culture. I like I really, really wanted to give this two stars meaning "it was ok" , but I did like it a bit better than that.

I like how he gives even the smallest themes their own chapters -- the one on Oklahoma is only a few pages, but it does deserve to stand alone.

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I also appreciate that variations on ok, such as AOK and Ned Flanders' "okely-dokely-doo" were given their due. However, sometimes the examples, especially in the section on literary uses of ok, went on a bit too long. My only real beef with this book came in the introduction. Metcalf writes: You won't find footnotes in this book. The Internet changes too fast for that. Instead, I have tried to acknowledge sources in sufficient detail that you can locate them too by Googling, with a little luck.

I may need to check with some of the English Composition I professors at my college, but I'm pretty sure "the Internet changes too fast" won't fly in place of proper documentation. Maybe the publisher had some sort of page limit? Whatever the reason -- boo! That is definitely not ok.

View 2 comments. Apr 17, Larry rated it liked it Shelves: kindle. This is a book that should have been a magazine article. Its fun to read, but the basic premise that "OK" as a word began life as a joke in can be stated in one chapter and is. The rest is proof of the claim, examining other origins that the author is convinced and convincing are clearly wrong, and discussing its on and off history following its inception.

It also explores the universal use of "OK" around the world, and why it caught on. It's a fast read, however, and worthwhile for an This is a book that should have been a magazine article. It's a fast read, however, and worthwhile for anyone interested in the history of language and how it evolves. May 14, Mark Cheathem rated it it was ok. This book was. Jun 11, Steve Wiggins rated it really liked it. The title says it all.

How 'OK' took over the world

In this brief book Allan Metcalf traces the history of the word OK through its probable beginnings as a joke up through its widespread usage today. Recognized and assimilated into nearly every language in the world, it is one of the most understood words of all time. The book doesn't intend to offer great profundity. It's simply a quick and interesting story of how a simple neologism became a worldwide force. As with any book based on examples, there are some that will work The title says it all.

As with any book based on examples, there are some that will work with readers better than others. This doesn't prevent the book from being enjoyable, however. Fun and informative, it won't demand much of your time and you're sure to learn something along the way.

My Wishlist

Nov 10, Amy Jo rated it it was ok. Therefore, the details of this following review may be fuzzier than usual; that means take it easy on me and do not rub balloons to this review's hair; a fuzzball puff will be the result. Felt like it outstayed its welcomed about half-way through it. Mainly examples of usage than an origin story. Just barely okie-dokie. Mar 03, Randy Evans rated it it was ok Shelves: not-finished. Other reviews of this book are spot on. It is a wonderful story that would have made a lovely magazine article. Like a high school term paper, the contents have been unnaturally stretched to meet a greater length than the subject merits.

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Nov 26, Memory Toast rated it liked it Shelves: adult-non-fiction. I read this over the course of the couple months in short, short snippets. A book that is a little informative, sometimes entertaining, and easy to put-down and pick-up again, it makes for good light reading.

okekurywalaf.gq : Ok: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word () : : Books

Nov 27, Shane Moore rated it it was ok Shelves: becl , non-fiction , male-author. Is there enough worth saying about this one word to fill a book, even a short book? Yes, but only barely.