Posts Tagged ‘OK’

Is this OK?

February 18, 2011 2 comments

OK magazineThe BBC magazine has an article about the origins of OK by Allan Metcalfe who, extraordinarily, has managed to squeeze a whole book out of this useful and ubiquitous abbreviation (not Desmond’s ridiculous sleb magazine).

As an analysis, it’s rather undercooked. Metcalfe ponders:

But what makes OK so useful that we incorporate it into so many conversations? It’s not that it was needed to “fill a gap” in any language. Before 1839, English speakers had “yes”, “good”, “fine”, “excellent”, “satisfactory”, and “all right”.

Well, so they did. And they used all of them, even though the shades of meaning between many of them are so slight that even a mantis shrimp would have difficulty discerning them. In a language as promiscuously acquisitive as English, having to “fill a gap” is hardly any kind of criterion for whether a word is adopted or not.

Nonetheless, having posited an non-existent criterion, Metcalfe rushes in to fill it: Read more…

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