the horde

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Ordu is nice. Its shopping streets are clean and busy (though I don’t see that many people carrying actual shopping bags), and there is the Atik Ibrahim Pasa mosque from the late 18th century, where old men sit around talking to each other (though the mosque itself looks rather new).

Meanwhile, I’m thinking about a word, and that word is “horde”.

When we say “horde” today we mostly mean a chaotic group of violent people, possibly tribesmen on a warpath or shoppers on Black Friday. Either way a horde is something bad, and the antagonist force in the brilliant series She-ra & The Princesses Of Power is thus very aptly called The Horde.

Because: horde equals bad.

But did you know that the word “horde” is actually a loanword from either Mongolian or Turkish? This is because the Mongolian forces that took large parts of Eurasia in the 12th and 13th century divided themselves up into camps called “orda”. An orda, for them, was a camp or an army. From there, the word seems to have migrated into the Turkic languages.

The reason I’m saying all this is because the name of this town, Ordu, means “army” in Turkish, just like in the original Mongolian. What this means is that a word (orda/ordu/horde) travelled through Eurasia with the invading forces (the Mongolians) and the migrating peoples (the Turks) and took on different meanings.

In some of the places that fell under Mongol domination, the meaning is neutral, like in Kazakhstan, which has a town called Kyzylorda. Kyzyl means red, orda means city. Red City. Or like in Turkey, which has Ordu, a town called Army.

In some other places that didn’t fall to the Mongols (like most of Europe) the meaning is pejorative. Here, the word “horde” implies something chaotic and threatening, not a regular army and certainly not a city, but something barbarian and terrifying. Like tribesmen on a warpath. Or shoppers on Black Friday.

Ordu shopping street

little dude with shark balloon

man with Turkish flag on balcony

men on benches

Atik Ibrahim Pasa mosque

Atik Ibrahim Pasa mosque minaret

women's area in Atik Ibrahim Pasa mosque

plastic stool in Atik Ibrahim Pasa mosque

imam in Atik Ibrahim Pasa mosque



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