Now, I want to make a declaration to start with: Cecil is never wrong! I just can’t emphasise that enough, to avoid the flames.
However … Professor Read, whom Cecil cites for the “oll korrect” - “Old Kinderhook” theses, was writing in 1963-64. Robert Claiborne, in his book “Our Marvelous Native Tongue,” © 1983, does not agree with the Read thesis.
"Easily the prize Africanism in American English, whence it has pased into a dozen tongues around the world, is our omnipresent “O.K.” For years, lexicographers grappled with this strange term, evolving etymologies that were more ingenious than scholarly. It was termed an abbreviation of the semiliterate expression “oll korrect,” slanderously ascribed to President Andrew Jackson, or of “Old Kinderhook,” the supposed nickname of another American president, Martin Van Buren (from his birthplace, a Dutch settlement on the Hudson). Eventually, more thoughtful scholars established that “O.K.” and various similar terms had been used as far back as the American Revolution – long before anyone had heard of either Jackson or Van Buren. And its source was unquestionably one of various West African expressions such as o-ke of was-ke, meaning “O.K.” "
Unfortunately, Claiborne’s book is intended for the popular audience, not the scholarly one, and he does not give any cites for this analysis.
Claiborne goes on to argue (at pp. 246-247) that there has been an element of racism in etymology - that proper white scholars would simply never consider or accept that the “superior” English language could be contaminated by “primitive” West African languages. (He also argues that linguistic interactions between African-Americans and whites is the origin of the “Southern” accent, not fantasy theories about Elizabethan English being spoken in the Adirondacks. But that’s another thread…)
So, in light of the Prime Directive, cited above, should Cecil re-investigate this issue? Again, not to say that Cecil was wrong (I want to make that absolutely, positively clear), but if the stiffs he relied on were wrong, it could have affected his analysis.