Monday, March 24, 2014

Happy birthday OK

One hundred and seventy-five years OK first appeared in print on page 2 of “The Boston Morning Post”, back then one of the most popular newspapers in the United States.

It’s the only survivor of a fashion for giving abbreviations to deliberate misspellings of common phrases. Eg KG for no go (know go), NC for nuff ced. OK Stood for "orl correct".

But while the others died out, OK hung around as it was so very useful. Plus, other people popularized it as well. OK truly entered the national lingua franca in 1840, when spin doctors for Democratic presidential nominee Martin Van Buren, a native of Kinderhook, New York, insisted to voters that it meant “Old Kinderhook.”

OK fits in with many languages. In Choctaw “okeh” means “it is so”. The Scottish say “och aye,” the Greek “ola kala” (it's good) and the French “aux Cayes,” which refers to a Haitian port famous for its rum.

These days it’s also proven handy for anything with a limited number of characters, like Twitter and texting.

So whether you prefer OK or okay, it’s okay to wish OK happy birthday today.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

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