Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Nov 19 03:43:57 UTC 2010

At 9:16 PM -0600 11/18/10, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
>Thanks. Would Allan now be willing to tell us something about his
>book?  And why is the story of OK improbable?
>Gerald Cohen

Well, my students always find it odd that a word with as much
historical significance could have originated from that trend of
pseudo-semi-illiterate "laconics" in the silly little jocular pieces
in newspapers.  A loan from Choctaw or Wolof, now that would be
serious, and even "Old Kinderhook" would seem more plausible,
especially given the context of a successful presidential campaign,
but learning that America's greatest gift to the English language is
in fact the sole survivor of that proto-texting fad that was equally
exemplified by "K.Y." for 'Know Yuse', "O.W." for 'Oll Wright', and
"N.S." for 'Nuff Said'--pretty improbable, all things being equal.
OK, not *sole* survivor--there were the three R's (Reading, 'Riting,
and 'Rithmetic) too. But still.


>Original message from American Dialect Society on behalf of Arnold
>Zwicky, Thu 11/18/2010                            5:14 PM:
>unless i missed it -- always possible -- no one has celebrated Our
>Own Allan Metcalf's publication of his book
>   OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word (OUP)
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list