OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word

Allan Metcalf

OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word

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 secret history of OK – how it was coined, what it stood for, and the amazing extent of its influence. 1.7 out of 5 based on 3 reviews
OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Language & Linguistics
Format Hardback
Pages 224
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication January 2011
ISBN 978-0195377934
Publisher OUP USA
 

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 secret history of OK – how it was coined, what it stood for, and the amazing extent of its influence.

Reviews

The Guardian

Steven Poole

With genial enthusiasm, the author points out that OK could be considered the first word spoken on the moon (on landing, Buzz Aldrin said: "OK. Engine stop"), or that Barack Obama is uncommonly OK with OK. Much of the book, even so, does feel rather padded out, with long lists of uninteresting examples.

22/01/2011

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The New York Times

Roy Blount Jr

What Metcalf has to say about OK’s oral and aural virtues is as follows: “The sounds of OK were clearly secondary to its appearance in print, but they too are fortuitously clear and simple: two long vowels, O and A, separated in the middle by a quick K. Nearly every language in the world not only has these three sounds but allows them to be combined in that sequence, which accounts both for the spread of OK throughout the world and the penchant for discovering the ‘true’ origin of OK in words or expressions of another language that sound very much like OK.” True enough, but much of OK’s catchiness adheres in how much fun it is to say.

19/01/2010

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The Spectator

Mark Mason

There are occasional snippets of interest … Essentially, though, this is an interesting magazine article stretched until it snaps.

22/01/2011

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