Allen Metcalf's new book on "OK"

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue Jan 25 01:50:08 UTC 2011

. . .  is mentioned in TLS.

Well, O. K., it's not a review, and it's mentioned with a raised eye-brow, but still.

The back-page column of TLS is "NB", by J. C., TLS's assigned eye-brow raiser.  The column of January 7, 2011, (p. 32, cols. 3-4) opens with a summary of a number of surmises on the origin of the expression O. K., indicating that these and more are to be found in Allan's new book, (giving publisher and price), and that the book traces the expression to a newspaper of 1839.  The mention concludes with a quotation and an eye-brow unfurling:
""OK is America's answer to Shakespeare.  Or, more precisely, OK is America's Shakespeare, a two-letter expression as potent as anything in the Bard's works."  Believe that and you can believe anything, including the theory that OK originated as "o. k." at the Boston Morning Post in 1839."

As we say in philological circles, there's no such thing as bad publicity, if your name is spelled right, and it is.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

The American Dialect Society -

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