"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kitteh is my BFF: The Historical / Social Context of Abbreviated Speech and Intentional Misspelling

Humorous Pictures

I became suddenly curious today about the origin of the word "okay" and, in reading the Wikipedia entry on the subject, discovered that there have been previous fads not only involving "comic misspellings" but fads of rampant abbreviation, even abbreviation of the comic misspellings.

According to the late etymologist Allen Walker Read:
"The abbreviation fad began in Boston in the summer of 1838 ... OFM, "our first men," and used expressions like NG, "no go," GT, "gone to Texas," and SP, "small potatoes." Many of the abbreviated expressions were exaggerated misspellings, a stock in trade of the humorists of the day. One predecessor of OK was OW, "oll wright," and there was also KY, "know yuse," KG, "know go," and NS, "nuff said."

No doubt that some folks circa 1838 were more amused by the fad than others. It also seems to serve different purposes now in the era of the txt msg. In between 1838 and the event of instant messaging, we've had candy conversation hearts, vanity license plates, and the song titles of the artist previously and currently known as Prince (i.e., Nothing Compares 2 U).

So, icanhascheezburger.com is a resurfacing of an old trend. In 1838 I bet it was a lot harder to come by winsome photos of marine mammals holding plastic buckets, though.

In memory of Minazo the seal, 1994 - 2005.


adam said...

The marine mammals are definitely my favorite. Right up there with the kittehs and the hotdogs. I gss I like all a themz.

M.A. said...

oh noooooooo! the bucket is all alonz now! wut will it dooooooo?!

Emily said...

Oh noes!?!!1 the lolrus bukkit has a sad.