Hoards of Wildebeest

‘Hoards of wildebeest were sweeping majestically through the jungle.’  That’s what Basil Fawlty said, or something like it – but I want you to look closely at that sentence.  Is it right?  If you read it and thought there was nothing wrong with the spelling you are one of a seemingly growing army (a horde, no less) of people who confuse these two words hoard and horde.  The number of references I have recently seen to ‘hoards’ of people makes me both grimace and laugh.  Who is hoarding these people?  And why are they keeping them in a railway station? I want to ask.  But, fearful of being called a pedantic numpty, I keep quiet.  And now I can be silent no longer: I insist that you learn this!  Are you a hoarder?  You’re a hoarder if you store things far in excess of your need of them.  People hoarded things during the war and were punished for it.  Hoard.  The other kind is what happens to wildebeest or people in a railway station and it’s probably (I’m speaking off the top of my head here) related to herd.  

This thankfully puts me in mind of a scene from Yes Prime Minister:

(page 300)

It’s just as well I had a laugh at that – because this very morning I came across this sentence in a short story:

‘The only sound is electricity coarsing steadily through concrete block walls’.

‘Coarsing’?  Of course that could be a typo but I know from experience that stories on Everyday Fiction are double-and triple-checked so that would suggest both editors and writer think ‘coarsing’ is correct.  Yet as far as I know there is no such word as ‘coarsing’ unless in the context of coarse fishing.

(Incidentally, what is coarse fishing and how does it differ from the smooth variety?)

This is what happens when you rely on your spell-checker, because spell checkers don’t know what you mean, they only see what you say.  Relying too much on your spell-checker is like relying on your sat-nav: it’s a useful tool but don’t forget to use your loaf as well.

In other news, the elderflower is nearly out, so I shall be starting another batch of wine soon.  That makes four: nettle, blackberry, elderberry and elderflower (the berries were frozen last autumn).  I like the way elder bookends summer; the flowers coming out at the beginning and the berries at the end.

Kirk out

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