Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Times Mistaken

The Japan Times (my other paper, when I buy it) is a great periodical featuring some excellent writing and in-depth reporting that may go above and beyond what most newspapers of equal size would dare attempt these days. Most of the time it's on target but sometimes it's off. The other day I stumbled across this  example of one of those times - times that The Japan Times could have done better.

I believe the writer meant "hordes of people"  not "hoards of people" but I could be wrong.

Hoards of Errors

Is it hordes of hoards, or is it the other way around? I'm confused and so is The Japan Times apparently when it comes to these two homophones. 

The Times must have a hoard of dictionaries squirreled away somewhere around the office to help them figure this word problem out. They are most likely in a pile of dust covered tomes that were used by the hordes of proofreaders who probably once quietly toiled away there under green tinted visors until they were replaced by spell check and eventually all went the way of the dinosaur. 

If someone did stumble upon one of these  volumes and cracked the spine open they might find that hoard, as my Webster's dictionary notes, is "a supply or fund stored up and often hidden away" while horde, according to the same volume, is "a teeming crowd or throng." 

Here is a hoard of Japan Times articles I recently uncovered that feature the word "hoards" where the writer probably meant "hordes." I hope the Times sorts these words out soon. It's enough to make hordes of angry grammarians stand up and cancel their newspaper subscriptions!

Click to enlarge.


The Japan Times isn't the only news organization susceptible to this kind of goof up. Regret the Error, an award winning book on media mistakes and more by Craig Silverman tells about an identical mix up occurring at another venerable newspaper. I wondered if the Japan Times was immune to making the very same blunder and was surprised to learn that it was decidedly not.


  1. I'll have to one day look at Japan Times myself and check it out!

    1. It's not all bad. I'm not too sure but I think it's a relatively small news operation (small circulation and staff plus a large area to cover). It seems to rely heavily on wire stories but the paper has its own columnists and does investigative journalism which might be rare for a newspaper its size. I recently read an article from 2009 by John Mitchell called, "Koza Remembered" which I thought was perfect.