23.1844, Books: OK: Metcalf

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LINGUIST List: Vol-23-1844. Wed Apr 11 2012. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 23.1844, Books: OK: Metcalf

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Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2012 16:24:52
From: Jessica Prudhomme [jessica.prudhomme at oup.com]
Subject: OK: Metcalf

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Title: OK 
Subtitle: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word 
Publication Year: 2012 
Publisher: Oxford University Press
	   http://www.oup.com/us
	

Book URL: http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Linguistics/TheEnglishLanguage/~~/dmlldz11c2EmY2k9OTc4 


Author: Allan Metcalf

Paperback: ISBN:  9780199892532 Pages:  Price: U.S. $ 13.95


Abstract:

It is said to be the most frequently spoken (or typed) word on the planet, 
more common than an infant's first word ma or the ever-present beverage 
Coke. It was even the first word spoken on the moon. It is "OK"--the most 
ubiquitous and invisible of American expressions, one used countless times 
every day. Yet few of us know the hidden history of OK--how it was coined, 
what it stood for, and the amazing extent of its influence.

Allan Metcalf, a renowned popular writer on language, here traces the 
evolution of America's most popular word, writing with brevity and wit, and 
ranging across American history with colorful portraits of the nooks and 
crannies in which OK survived and prospered. He describes how OK was 
born as a lame joke in a newspaper article in 1839--used as a supposedly 
humorous abbreviation for "oll korrect" (ie, "all correct")--but should have died 
a quick death, as most clever coinages do. But OK was swept along in a 
nineteenth-century fad for abbreviations, was appropriated by a presidential 
campaign (one of the candidates being called "Old Kinderhook"), and finally 
was picked up by operators of the telegraph. Over the next century and a 
half, it established a firm toehold in the American lexicon, and eventually 
became embedded in pop culture, from the "I'm OK, You're OK" of 1970's 
transactional analysis, to Ned Flanders' absurd "Okeley Dokeley!" Indeed, 
OK became emblematic of a uniquely American attitude, and is one of our 
most successful global exports.


Reviews

"Metcalf has produced a complete and completely entertaining history of the 
most American of all expressions. More than 'just OK' -- revelatory and 
engrossing."--Erin McKean, CEO of wordnik.com, author of Weird and 
Wonderful Words, More Weird and Wonderful Words, and former Editor-in-
Chief, Oxford American Dictionaries

"Metcalf has written an appealing and informative history of OK." -- 
Washington Post Book World

"Fun and educational!"--Language Hat

"Have a look at Professor Metcalf's book yourself. It's worth your time."--You 
Don't Say

"I think you'll find the yarn Metcalf spins to be far better than OK...So get this 
book, OK? If you love words, history, or Americana, you'll find it fascinating."-
-Mark Peters, Good.com

"Metcalf's entertaining linguistic history is a treat for logophiles."--Kirkus 
Reviews

"Engagingly written as well as thoroughly researched."-- Arnold Zwicky's Blog

"Metcalf has done a remarkable job of imparting the life and times of a word 
that began as a joke and ended up 'the most frequently spoken (or typed) 
word on the planet.' Touching on its history; its use in politics, literature, and 
business; its tiny stature and impressive reach; and even how it reflects 
culture and identity, Metcalf has written an unbelievably OK book."--
PopMatters.com

"I highly recommend the book...as a nice read. This is exactly the kind of 
book...that people who call themselves 'language lovers' should read ... it's 
clear and accessible and gives non-specialists...a good picture of how to 
think about language history and language use. And Metcalf writes in a really 
easy style."--Mr. Verb

"Metcalf's book is an enjoyable addition to the shelfload of books prompting 
us to reconsider everyday things--from appliances to the moon overhead to 
the air we breathe. His book, in fact, isn't just enjoyable--that's right, it's better 
than OK."--Los Angeles Times 



Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
                     History of Linguistics


Written In: English  (eng)
	
See this book announcement on our website: 
http://linguistlist.org/pubs/books/get-book.cfm?BookID=59852




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