O.K. to say O.K.
By Themiya L. B. Hurulle
In our daily life, we often hear sayings such as
"O.K., I will meet you later!" "Is it O.K.?"
and similar phrases using the abbreviation O.K. But have we ever
wondered, even for a fraction of a second, how this term originated?
No one is certain and no one will ever be!
Sydney to New York and Beijing to Johannesburg, the word O.K. is
commonly used, as a convenient and effective way of communicating
consent or similar acknowledgements. Linguists across the world
have pondered the question for years, arriving at many colourful
but often inaccurate answers.
Collins Compact Dictionary 21st Century Edition defines O.K. as:
an expression of approval or agreement……. Perhaps from
O(LL) K(ORRECT): jocular alteration of ALL CORRECT"
attribute the origins of "O.K." to lie with the abbreviation
of ORRIN KENDALL biscuits, which American soldiers ate during their
Civil war of 1865. Others say O.K. is short for "Aux Cayes",
a port in Haiti that American sailors praised for its Rum. Old Keruk,
a Native American tribal chief, is said to have signed treaties
with his initials O.K.
word "O.K" has been used in the most unimaginable places
- American soldiers carried the word to their duty stations worldwide,
Astronaut John Glenn took the word into space when he excitedly
exclaimed "We're all O.K." as the Spacecraft FRIENDSHIP
7 was launched.
the spring of 1839 in Boston, USA, readers saw the first instance
of the term "O.K." appearing in print in the Boston, Washington
Post. Many were of the opinion that the word came about with the
saying "All Correct" - linguist Eric Mc Kean has pointed
out that the word "All Correct" (A.C.) was deliberately
misspelt to arrive at the term "O.K.". Nowadays, we see
people intentionally misspell or abbreviate words when typing on
the Internet for convenience.
the passage of time, many abbreviations have faded into obscurity,
but the word "O.K" continues to gain momentum. To talk
about the larger phenomenon as this word spread across the America
and world implies that "O.K. has multiple origins, that people
accept it for a variety of reasons" says Michael Adams, a linguist
and an Albright College Professor. He says "There are words
similar to O.K. in many other languages." Wolof, a West African
language has the words "Wah Kay" meaning, "Yes".
In Choctaw, "Okeh" means "Indeed".
conclusion, should we ask ourselves what would people have said
before the word "O. K." came about? How would we go through
a day without using this seemingly essential abbreviation? Would
we say "Right you are!" or "Very well"?
O.K. then? - For generations to come!
Business Editor's note: To this we should add OKAY - the name of
the layer cake recently put out by the Ceylon Biscuits group probably
punning on the common use of O.K.