Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue Mar 6 00:28:10 UTC 2007

the confusion between these two is widely viewed as a mere spelling
problem.  but here's an example where there's serious semantic overlap:

Palo Alto Daily News 3/5/07, "Local nonprofits taken by task" by
Suzanne Bohan, p. 3:

Moreover, she found the event wasteful.

"There were hoards and hoards of free food," she said, adding that
much was unconsumed at the end of the event.


a speculative reconstruction of the history: first the collective
"horde" develops a quasi-determiner use (with (count) plural nouns):
"a horde of flowers" 'a lot of flowers'.  as with many such quasi-
determiners (cf. "a pile of flowers" 'a lot of flowers'), the plural
is also possible in this use: "hordes of" 'a lot of', as in "hordes
of flowers" 'a lot of flowers' (cf. "piles of flowers" 'a lot of
flowers').  plural N determiners and quasi-determiners can be
duplicated for extra effect: "lots and lots of", "piles and piles
of", "hordes and hordes of".

quasi-determiners originally appropriate for plural complements can
be extended to (singular) mass complements (plural and mass are very
closely related in english syntax): "a horde of clothing",  "hordes
of furniture/clothing", "hordes and hordes of clothing" (where
interference from "hoard" is relatively unlikely).

along the way we'll get quasi-determiners, including "horde", with
with mass nouns denoting things that might be hoarded, as in "a horde
of food", "hordes of food and silver", "hordes and hordes of food".

and then "hoard" for "horde" in this context, and even with plural
complements: "hoards of flowers", "hoards and hoards of bugs/enemies/
etc."  (MWDEU's examples are "hoards of local golfers" and "hoards of

maybe that final step is an eggcorn.  but maybe it *is* just a
misspelling, since you get things like "the hoard attacked my castle"
and "the hoard rode through the town", not to mention "enormous
treasures in his horde" and the like.

still, my impression is that "hoard" for "horde" is much more common
than the reverse, and that this substitution is much more common in
quasi-determiner uses of "horde" than in other uses, which would
follow from my story above.  but how to check if my impressions are


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