garland (v)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, hunh?

Most of my reading is English written by either US Americans or Brits, writing either for US or British readers—I do occasionally read something written by a Canadian or Australian or New Zealander, but even then I think they are writing mostly for British or US readers. As it happens, a book I’m currently reading was written in India for (I think) mostly Indian and other South Asian readers, and as such has a few turns of phrase that strike me as odd. I can’t tell which are idiosyncrasies of this particular writer, and which are common South Asian English usages.

The book is a history of Cricket in India (A Corner of a Foreign Field, by Ramachandra Guha, and as such, he fairly frequently mentions people receiving awards or otherwise being celebrated in various ways. A couple of times so far he has said that a person was felicitated at an event, which was perfectly understandable but definitely non-standard US English usage.

The other word he uses far more frequently is garland: such-and-such a person is garlanded on arrival in a city, or on entry to a cricket grounds. The OED does not list garland as a verb in that way, but I think it’s in use, if unusual. The more common use of the verb garland, still not very common, is to hang flowers or greenery on something or someone, as one might decorate for Christmas or May Day.

At any rate, when Mr. Guha writes that the Viceroy attended a particular cricket match and went to the tents where the various groups of spectators were gathered, being garlanded by each, I imagine the Viceroy being increasingly laden with strings of flowers and leaves. It’s entertaining, but probably not what actually happened.


4 Responses to “garland (v)”

  1. -Ed.

    Rereading this I should add that I have read novels and short stories by South Asian writers, but (a) not all that many, actually, and (2) all of those were in US editions.

    Oddly enough, considering how much I have read about cricket and how central India and the rest of South Asia are to the cricket world, I have read very little cricket writing by South Asian journalists before—I mean, by people working in South Asia for South Asian readers. So if somehow any of y’all have a recommendation for a place to read recaps and features about current cricket news, that would probably be delightful for me.


  2. Jed

    Interesting! Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary does include this usage:

    to confer an accolade upon

    <garlanded as a brilliant leader after the first Battle of Bull Run — A. W. Long>

    and I think I’ve seen it before, in things written by non-South-Asian writers, though I may be misremembering.

    • -Ed.

      I was surprised not to find it in the OED at all. I think if it as in use, but rare.

      For some reason, it makes me think of the villagers in Blazing Saddles and their attempt to give the new Sheriff a laurel and hearty handshake.


  3. MyS

    Didn’t that sort of thing used to happen to Dave Fraser all the time?


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