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Words, Oct. 26



If you think pink hoards are impressive, you should have seen the Golden Hoard:
“The easy way to participate is to get in a kayak and paddle down the Arkansas River until just past the Broadway Bridge and then turn around and look up. There you’ll see the pink hoards running, jogging and walking in honor of their mothers, sisters, friends ...”
A hoard is “a secret store of something, an accumulation.” Every time bad weather threatens Little Rock, people hoard toilet paper, indifferent to the needs of their friends and neighbors.
Success With Words says a horde is “a huge and threatening army of alien barbarians on the move,” quite different from the “civilized and essentially defensive” soldiers on our side of the conflict: Georgia lay defenseless before Sherman’s horde.
A horde can also be any large group (“a horde of tourists”) and “a moving pack or swarm of animals”: A horde of vampire bats descended on the vice president’s party.
The most famous horde was the Golden Horde, a Mongol army that came out of Northeast Asia to threaten China, India, Persia and Europe in the 13th century.

Carol Harper (or Harper Carol, I’m not sure which), who noted the “pink hoards,” has other points to make. “I believe you once complained about people saying ‘exactly’ instead of plain old yes. I disagree. The word du jour is ‘absolutely.’ And another thing: the misuse of ‘beg the question’ is universal … I don’t think I’ve heard it used correctly on TV by anyone except Tony Blair on Question Time.” Tony Blair is one more person than I’ve heard use beg the question correctly in years. I’m afraid we’ll have to accept that the new meaning is becoming the standard meaning. For old times’ sake, we’ll cover the subject one more time. Begging the question does not (or did not) mean “inviting the obvious question.” It meant “basing a conclusion on an assumption that needs proving as much as the conclusion itself”: Newspapers always print the truth. If it weren’t true, they wouldn’t put it in the newspaper.

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