Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yokay then!

The media, this morning, informed me of two historical events that occurred today:  March 23.   NPR, with or without government funding, let me know that on this day in 1775, Patrick Henry uttered the phrase for which he is best known, “... give me liberty or give me death!”  The phrase was used in speech to the Virgina convention and criticized the tough handed British rule over the American colonies.  The full sentence used in the speech was actually, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

The other tidbit was in the daily, actually more like every other day, email I get from informing me of the many things that happened in history on the days they actually send me their "daily" e-mail.  The lead item today was not the Patrick Henry quote which the number two item in the e-mail.  The number one item was “1839 : OK enters national vernacular.”

OK, I actually read about OK first over breakfast.  I half thought about writing about it because of an odd similarity between the American youth of 1839 and young people today (I will explain more below... OK?).  But, as stated, it was a half thought.  On the drive in, I heard the Patrick Henry tidbit on the radio and somehow that tipped the scale towards writing and posting about history.  OK?

The remaining question was whether to write more about Patrick Henry and his famous quote or to write about the more pedestrian OK?  I am feeling quite pedestrian, if not outright plebeian, today.  There was really no question.  I am writing mostly about OK.  You can read the full article on  There is no real need for me to copy and paste or even paraphrase the text into my own words.  (

I do want to expound a bit, however, on the lovely parallels the article claimed about the American youth of then and now (and I just said I would not be cutting or pasting... OK then):

During the late 1830s, it was a favorite practice among younger, educated circles to misspell words intentionally, then abbreviate them and use them as slang when talking to one another. Just as teenagers today have their own slang based on distortions of common words, such as "kewl" for "cool" or "DZ" for "these," the "in crowd" of the 1830s had a whole host of slang terms they abbreviated. Popular abbreviations included "KY" for "No use" ("know yuse"), "KG" for "No go" ("Know go"), and "OW" for all right ("oll wright").

LOL!  OMG!  Those wacky 1839 teenagers did this without the social media driven abbreviation frenzy of today. They had no texting or twitter.  They had no phones let alone cell phones.  The telegraph existed in concept but was not widely used in 1839.  The 1839 teenagers had no instant messaging Facebook e-mail need to abbreviate and create their own slang.  Yet, they did it.  I am now guessing it might be more an adolescent thing than an internet social media driven thing.  Who would have guessed?

I like the KY = know yuse.  I do not imagine the KY Jelly marketing folks will pick-up on this oddity any time soon.  OK.

Why does this fascinate me?  (Not the KY thing... the OK thing...please.)  I was impressed that OK was born out of a misspelling and mispronunciation of a very common phrase resulting in an abbreviation that upon appearance is unrelated to the original phrase.  Lately, I have been doing the same thing with OK.  I have been saying Yokay.

Why?  I don’t know.  It seemed funny to me and there are a  few people that I used it on who looked at me funny and started laughing.  That is about all the encouragement I need.  So, I have kept using it.  Now I have learned that I have actually distorted and misspelled a word, OK, that in fact is itself a distortion and abbreviation of a misspelling of two other words.  How kewl is that?

Yapperently, things like this amuse me.

1 comment:

  1. Yokay Mark! Ur okay ... I mean you're okay, you are okay, u the man! OK?

    A very cute article!