08-19-2013   Leave a comment

I was standing in a line at a nearby Subway Shop yesterday and listened to three young ladies chitchatting about this and that almost nonstop.  They discussed a few friends, made a derogatory comment or two about a certain person they disliked, and then complained about starting school in a week or two. As I stood in line behind them I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation intermixed with the receiving and sending of text messages from other friends.

I had to smile thinking how different things are these days for our younger generations.  The one thing that held my interest today was their use or misuse of the language.  Almost every child learns early on how to have a little fun at the expense of the adults in their life. These newer generations have adopted the never-ending use of the word "Like".  As I stood in that long line behind these young girls I was able to count no less than twenty-five uses of the word "Like".  It actually made me grin a little.

I could make fun of them or quote some of their silly comments but that isn’t at all what I was thinking at the time.  I agree that their use of the word was cute and possibly funny but it seemed to bother the older women standing to my left a great deal more than it did me. She was shuffling her feet and rolling her eyes the entire time which I’m sure was the effect they were shooting for.  Growing up these days still requires those developing children to irritate the older generations just enough to show them their newly found desire for independence.  It’s where they begin to carve out their own niche as soon-to-be adults and push and shove to take their place with the rest of us.  They were giggling and chatting like kids do and it was fun to watch.

Every generation has certain words and phrases they over-use and I have no idea how that happens with almost every generation.  When I was growing up the word "Okay" was overused constantly and later “Cool” was the word of choice.  After a little research I discovered the following information on the word "Okay" since that was my generation’s word choice.

As tends to be the case with the origins of sayings or words, the starting point of OK is a matter of contention. Many explanations have been offered and here are three samples of which none are believable.

  • The wood out of which British ships were built, oak, which is a durable wood gave rise to the saying that such wood was “oak-a”.
  • US military records stating that there were no casualties – that is, zero killed (OK).
  • The ancient Greek schooling practice of marking the letters on exceptional papers, indicating that they were ola kala (literally “it is good”).

* * *

The most favored derivation, however, probably because it is supported by documentary evidence, is that the word OK stems from a phrase used in the 19th century. It was a fad during the 1830’s in Boston for newspapers to use comical expressions such as KY for “know yuse”, OW for “oll wright”, NS for “nuff said”, and notably, OK for “oll korrect”. OK became more popular in 1840 when the supporters of the Democratic politician, Martin Van Buren formed the OK Club. In this case, the letters stood for “Old Kinderhook” (Kinderhook, New York being Van Buren’s place of birth), and it’s thought that it was through this use of the letters that brought OK into mainstream usage.

* * *

I’m sure that in the day I was able to make my parents cringe every time I used the term “OK” sarcastically just as “Like and Whatever” are accomplishing these days.   Rule #1 for kids: As always, find an adult’s annoyance button and then push it over and over again.  I wonder what the next generation will come up in a few years to irritate these three young ladies.  That’s makes me grin too!

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