Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Mike from Cadillac, Les from Petoskey, and Scott from Traverse City all touched on a similar element in last Tuesday’s show. That element is the word key, and the variations that can be worked on it.
There are two words spelled k-e-y, and they come from different sources. The first one is indebted to an old Frisian word that meant the kind of key used to manipulate a lock. A key is a source of control; it implies the power to guide and to influence. That extension led to later meanings of the word key, such as the key to a solution, a key player, a key to a map, a key move in a business takeover, a keyboard on a musical instrument, the keystone of an arch, a typewriter or computer key, and a keynote speaker. (Pennsylvania was dubbed the Keystone State as an analogy to the keystone in an arch.)
The other one comes from the Spanish cayo, a reef or a shoal. It’s the name given to a low island, sandbank, or reef. It accounts for Key West and for key lime pie, made with limes native to the Florida Keys.
Someone also asked about the Keystone Cops, a highlight of the silent film era. That had an independent origin. These bumbling policemen appeared in films produced by Mack Sennet. His studio was called the Keystone Film Company.
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