12/13/2006

 

Down With OK, Up With KY

I don’t particularly care for the word “okay.”

Generally, it means “an endorsement” or “satisfactory.” It can also be used to end a sentence, in which case it means (essentially) “do you understand?” While I don’t really care for either of the first two uses (what is okay, anyway? Good? Bad? Give me something here. I’m not looking for indifference in description) it’s the question form which really grinds my gears. Especially when it’s written (non-verbal), as in “Okay?” or, more specifically, “OK?”

In deciding whether or not I officially dislike the word “okay” (can you tell my job affords me some down time?), I sought the help of noted (by me, now) linguist, blogger, and Cardinals/Illini fan Liam, from over at Hey... Listen!.

Apropos of absolutely nothing, I left the following comment for Liam yesterday:

“Completely off subject, but since you're the only linguist I (virtually) know, where does the word "okay" come from? It's usage (in particular the use of "OK") bothers me for some reason.”


To which Liam responded with:

“I don't know that anyone disputes the "oll korrect" origin.”


Oll korrect? Sounds like either a villain from a Dickens novel or something my grandpa would use to fix a ceiling fan. Either way, I’m not happy with it.

A quick googeling of “Oll korrect” sent me to the lovable bastion of usefulness that is wikipedia, and a nice little run down of the history of this rather fractured little phrase:

“The form "O.K." first became popular in Boston newspapers in 1839 as part of a broader fad of forming and employing acronyms, many of them barbarous. Other examples at the time included "G.T.T." for "gone to Texas" and "K.Y." for "know yuse" (note from al - remember that one). The general fad may have existed in spoken or informal written American English for a decade or more before its appearance in newspapers. "O.K." was intended as a misspelling of "all correct"; in the first few years it was often published with this gloss. (Note that gloss indicates the spread of a new word.) The gloss was sometimes varied with degraded spelling such as "Oll Korrect" or even "Ole Kurreck". Deliberate word play was associated with the acronym fad and was a yet broader contemporary American fad. In this first phase, "O.K." was spread with the acronym fad from Boston to other American cities.”


So now we have Boston to blame for not only Dan Shaughnessy, Aerosmith, and, well… Boston, but also for the deliberate misspelling of the phrase “All correct,” leading to what we have today: “OK.” This all means that if those tea party having bastards wouldn’t have been so down with misspellin’, we’d be using the phrase “AC” in everyday life, which, in turn, would make me think about “Saved by the Bell” and Mario Lopez’s magnificent Jheri-curl.

And I would be a much happier man.

Thanks for nothing, Boston. (In fairness, it is a lovely town and they do make some mean chowder. But that does nothing to make up for Aerosmith.)

Unofficially, I have decided to quit using “okay” in my daily life. Since I’ve been getting by the last eight years using only five positive (beautiful, phenomenal, extravagant, marvelous and awesome) and five negative (sucks, blows, bites, fucking sucks, and fucking blows) descriptive words, cutting OK shouldn’t be too much of a task. Plus, I already like to use “luke” when describing feeling (be them physical or psychological) of a mediocre nature. Later, okay!

But as one phrase leaves, one must come in. (I'd like to equate this somehow to "Highlander" but I'm not sure how. Feel free to do it for yourself, though.) Hence, I will now begin a new campaign: to bring back "K.Y."

That’s right, I’m bring it back. Unfortunately, I have no freaking idea what in the living hell it is supposed to mean. Then I wandered across this fantastic article by Karl-Erik Tallmo and found out that it is a rather deliberate misspelling of “No use.” As in: “I have no use for that TV show.”

Which means that the new way of describing, say, anything by Michael Rapaport, would be to say “I got KY for that shit.”

Which will lead to whomever you are speaking with to say “What?”

And you’ll say “Never mind.”

And then you’ll start to wonder to yourself why in the hell you read this entire post.

Comments:
This post stinks...P-U.


I pulled my new Drinko game out of its box this weekend and used it for the first time. Fun game. My favorite part was the last line of the directions: "Last man/woman standing wins." I don't remember who won. Nice.
 
Ha! The good ol' P.U. I don't mind that one -- it makes me giggle, much like saying tummy instead of stomache.

Glad to hear you're enjoying the Drinko. Spread the word, I think the games got some legs. (We also have an informal rule that I think others should follow -- if you drop your chip into the your own slot, leading to a social, you have to yell "Suck it, bitches!" Fun times. Pointing at your crotch while yelling is encouraged, too.)
 
Canadians get around "...okay?" at the end of a sentence. We just tack on an "...eh?" when we need verification or desire a response.

See? We're useful for something other than NORAD sites, excellent beer and hockey supremacy.
 
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