Are you OK or are you all right?

July 27, 2016


Yow friends and family! How yu do? Are you OK? Or are you all right? And is there a difference? Is all right a little better than OK? I think so.

To me OK is so-so, or half and half. It's a kind of middle point between not too good and not too bad. So when I ask somebody how they're doing and the person responds with 'OK', I usually take that to mean that things may not be bad but they are not all that good either. All right on the other hand, sounds more positive to me. When I hear 'all right' it suggests that things are in order in every respect and all things are right. How about you?


share my view


My weird brain went in the direction of that OK-all right exploration yesterday when my cousin reached out to me checking if I was OK. And instead of giving her the perfunctory 'yes, thank you' I told her that yeah, I was OK, but then went on to share my view that OK alone is not really all right, especially if all right supposed to mean ALL is RIGHT. What you think?

In fact, what do the letters OK even stand for though? Does anybody know? I did some research and it didn't help much. The Oxford Dictionaries website informs me that there have been numerous attempts to explain the emergence of this expression, which seems to have swept into popular use in the US during the mid-19th century, but most of them are pure speculation. Is that OK?

Some of the speculations, which have little or no linguistic and historical evidence, include suggestions that OK comes from the Scots expression 'och aye', or the Greek 'ola kala] (which means 'it is good'), or the Choctaw Indian okeh (which means 'it is so') or the initials of a railway freight agent called Obediah Kelly who is said to have written the letters on documents he had checked. Another likely explanation is that the term came into being as an abbreviation of 'orl korrekt' - a jokey misspelling of 'all correct' which was current in the US in the 1830s. Yeah, so many suggestions about the meaning of OK, and none of them seems OK enough. I don't know about you, but dat nuh all right to me.

According to that source, the oldest written references to OK is from its use as a slogan by the US Democratic Party during the Presidential election of 1840. Their candidate, President Martin Van Buren, was nicknamed 'Old Kinderhook' after his birthplace in New York state, and his supporters formed the 'OK Club' which helped to popularise the term although it didn't get Van Buren re-elected.

Oh, and on the subject of US presidential elections, it would appear that if the Democratic Party's candidate is not elected in November, things in US and the rest of the world will be neither OK nor all right. What say you?


medieval armies


As I told my cuz, I remember reading something long ago that said the term OK came from a sign that medieval armies would carry when they returned to their towns after war. The sign would announce how many soldiers the army lost in battle by a number and the letter K, for killed. So if the sign said '17K' that meant 17 were killed and '110K' meant 110 were killed and so on. Naturally then, the most pleasing sign was"0K" which meant zero killed.

It made sense, but I checked that story and realised nothing nuh really go so. But I still like the idea of OK meaning nuhbody nuh dead. I know though, that there are many people around who are not dead but still not really living. Think about it. Just being alive is never enough peeps. We should be alive, engaged, and advancing purposefully. Nuh true? And that's why I maintain that OK nuh good like all right. All right says everything's plugged in good and tight, and every little thing is gonna be all right! So wah you say? OK or all right? Me, I say all of the above.

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