Guess what! A piano is a keyboard (instrument).

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Mar 18 02:33:42 UTC 2012

On Mar 17, 2012, at 6:57 PM, Larry Sheldon wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Larry Sheldon <LarrySheldon at COX.NET>
> Organization: Maybe tomorrow
> Subject:      Re: Guess what!  A piano is a keyboard (instrument).
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On 3/17/2012 8:46 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
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>> Sender:       American Dialect Society<ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Victor Steinbok<aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: Guess what!  A piano is a keyboard (instrument).
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> OK, it's /my/ turn to say that I don't see anything unusual. Seems to be
>> a bad translation of "Klavier". Just consider what Wiki posits in
>> disambiguation of "Clavier":
>>> Klavier, the German word used specifically to refer to any sort of
>>> piano except grand pianos, but not other keyboard instruments.
>> Perhaps it was posted by a French speaker who saw the line just above it.
>>> Clavier, the French word for keyboard (either musical or typographical)
>> Of course, Bach wrote for neither "keyboard" nor piano. He did, however,
>> write for Clavier (in this case, harpsichord==clavicimbalum, or,
>> potentially, clavichord, as well as ). Some of the titles are fairly
>> routinely presented as "Keyboard concertos" or "concerti". Another
>> possible association is "basso continuo", which is even more ambiguous
>> in modern terms.
>>      VS-)
>> PS: Any musicians, please jump in any time...
> Among the things I am not is spammer nor musician, but all I remember
> from the late lamented vinyl is "Piano Concerto No. ...."
> I never heard a piano referred-to as a "keyboard" until they started
> call guitars "axes".
> And high schools dropped "typing classes" in favor of "keyboarding
> skills classes.

It seems this was related to English usage, so I apologize.

This usage certainly fits within normal usage.

OED: Musical instruments that have keyboards. colloq.
AHD: Any of various instruments, played by means of a set of pianolike keys, often connected to a synthesizer or amplifier. (
Wiktionary: Does not cover this meaning (

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

The American Dialect Society -

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