O.K. on NPR

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Apr 1 14:44:39 UTC 2002

I was delighted (well, *almost* delighted) to be awakened this
morning a little before 7:00 to my clock radio dispensing a
substantive account by Erin McKean of the origin of "O.K."   This
appeared on the Morning Edition's weekly "Present at the Creation"
segment and the text is logged at

As you'll see, the Boston dailies' pseudo-illiteracy fad and Martin
Van Buren's Old Kinderhook campaign got their full due, along with
Allen Walker Read, and Michael Adams (reigning world expert on the
Buffylect) chipped in with various other (mostly discredited) genesis
tales.  My only quibble is with the written version--wasn't "O.K"
defined as abbreviating "Oll Korrekt" (or was it "Oll Korrect"?)
rather than "all correct"?  I thought the Boston papers in the late
1830s actually had glosses like "O.K. (oll korrekt)", "K.Y. (know
yuse)", and so on.

The audio file will be on the above web site later today.


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