The Most Popular Word in the World


There is literally an entire book about these two letters:

Is OK the most popular word in the world? That depends on how you look at it. It’s been argued that it’s the most /spoken/ word in the world, but I have to call BS on that. The most spoken word has got to be “the” or “I” or the equivalent in Mandarin.

But Popular is a more subjective measure…and one that I’m choosing because I think that “OK”s adoption as a loanword is so extremely common. Now, there may be words that have been adopted into more languages…I’m thinking of “taxi.” But “OK” is adopted for everyday conversational use, whereas “taxi” is only for specific situations. So that’s the completely subjective argument I’m using to say that “OK” is the most popular world in the world.

So, something that didn’t fit into the video…we think of memes as these new-fangled things, and definitely the way they spread now (and the speed at which they spread) is different, but acronyms from comical mis-spellings indicate that memes have been around for a long time, we just didn’t call them memes. And the fact that the Democratic Party latched onto one to try and promote a candidate that had a less-than-american-sounding feels much more 2018 than 1838 to me. Van Buren was actually the first president who wasn’t of British ancestry (or British himself) which was a big deal at the time.

Another thing I didn’t get into the video…the creation of OK a little bit depended on our society becoming more text-based and literate. Telegrams helped this, but newspapers did as well. The extent to which these technologies revolutionized our society and our ability to communicate fast and wide is really hard to understand now, but is maybe the kind of thing we should be thinking about as our own world is being revolutionized by new communication technologies. We don’t know, ultimately, what the affect will be. But they will be long-ranging and maybe invisible, just as OK has been for the last 175 years.

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