I have to admit to a quiet guffaw at the apparently malapropistic subject of a bulk email I received this morning. The posed question “Garnishing orders driving you mad?” is aimed at getting one interested in signing up for the basic financial skills workshop being offered.
Ah, they have it all wrong, I thought. It’s garnishee, and how do they expect anyone to take them seriously if they can’t even use the correct terminology?
My association with the word garnish is from the world of cuisine, as in the dual-purpose verb or noun describing either the act of putting decorative stuff onto a plate prior to sending it out, or the pretty stuff itself (yes, frilly parsley is also garnish of sorts).
Garnishee refers to the process whereby one involuntarily relinquishes part of one’s salary, and garnish is the act of adding something to the plate, which makes this an interesting juxtaposition of words and meanings. A case of giving with the one hand, and taking with the other, perhaps?
Given that the references to ‘garnishment’ appear to be mainly from the Land of Bush, I don’t consider myself entirely shamed. It strikes me as being one of those horrible manufactured words that one now has to accept by virtue of their widespread use.
On the other hand, I willingly submit to having my salary garnished – in a culinary sense, of course.