08 Jul 2018

The Different Meanings of “Okay”

The Different Meanings of “Okay”

OK is said to be the most frequently spoken or typed word on the planet. It is known to have a lot of variations which emerged through creation and invention of the generations.

Composed of just two simple letters, OK anchors agreements, confirms understanding, and choreographs the dance of everyday life.

OK is a meme that was embedded deeply into the way people think and act. According to Bryson, of all the new words to issue from the new world, the quintessential Americanism without any doubt was OK.

America’s single greatest gift to international discourse, OK is the most grammatically versatile of words. OK performs important functions so efficiently and modestly that people hardly realize how much they depend on it.

In the past, OK was not needed to fill a gap in vocabulary, because English speakers had done perfectly well without it before 1839. But it inspired a new way of looking at things and actions, OK or not OK, drawing a clear line between making do and not making do, but leaving degree of success unspecified.

It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that the modern world runs on OK. People write those letters on documents to mark our approval, speak OK to express assent, or just to say they’re listening, accept a computer’s actions by clicking on OK, and also use OK to introduce matters of importance, or recall an audience’s wandering attention.

OK can be categorized into seven different functions:

framing marker
tag-positioned comprehension check
affirmative response marker
negative response marker
concession
used to orient suggestion
filler

As a negative response marker:

Negative response marker releases the other speaker from having to continue speaking. However, it indicates dissatisfaction with the previous utterance. The utterance could have been incorrect, incomplete, or just not quite accurate.

“OK. Another example?”
“OK. And then?”

As a concession:
Concession refers to acceptance of some state of things. In these instances, it is often immediately followed by a ‘but’ response.

“OK. But glancing in the sample statements…”
“OK. But we should be reminded that…”
“OK. But sometimes, these ideologies are so..”

Ok used to orient suggestions:
OK, when used to orient suggestion, means that it functions to mention something as a possible thing to be done, used or thought about.

“OK. But maybe we should also do it like..”
“OK. And we can also do it as a habit so that we can improve on..”
“OK then we could just…”

As a filler:
OK as filler is an apparently meaningless word, phrase, or sound that marks a pause or hesitation in speech. It is also known as a pause filler or a form of hesitation.

“Instead, this is the, OK, the most…”
“If a friendly letter is for a friend, OK… then what is…”
“These relationships helped living organisms. Then after, ah OK…

OK can also be categorized into five parts of speech:

As an adjective,
A noun,
An adverb,
An interjection and
A transitive verb.

The functions and features of the word OK can help teachers be aware of the variations of OK which they can utilize in their actual teaching. For speakers, specifically teachers discussing a subject matter in the academe, an increase in their usage of different functions and features could enhance the teaching-learning process wherein language becomes a vehicle, rather than a barrier, to learning.

Students should be aware of the different variations of OK as to its functions and features for it serves relevant purposes in their study. For instance, through the use of OK as an affirmative response marker, the students can elaborate their answers for it also indicates that teachers or reporters can understand their point and it serves as a cue to continue responding.

Research & Study by: Venus Mae Lacson,
Sherjun Noveno,
Elaine Plana, Emelita Victor

Writer: Joyzee Ranara

Editor: Radge Cabral

Producer: Dr. Carl Balita