catering towards

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Fri May 29 12:12:38 UTC 2009

heard on a "youth radio" program about political activism by high
schoolers, something like: It depends on who you are catering towards
[in your demonstrations and political speech].  If you are catering
towards the governor, or the ...

two things here: "cater towards" rather than "cater to", and the sense
of the combination.

"catering towards" used in place of older "cater for" or "cater
to" (not with specific reference to supplying food) is moderately
common, though very much dwarfed by "cater to".  two representative

   Nationwide Health Properties (NHP): NHP owns skilled nursing,
senior housing and long term care properties catering towards the

   A nice, small grocery store catering towards the Hispanic
population, this is a great place to go if you live near one.

(NOAD2 specifies "to" for the senses 'provide with what is needed or
required' and 'try to satisfy (a particular need or demand)'.)

but there are some extended senses as well, as in the youth radio
quote (where the sense is something like 'address, direct oneself to,
direct towards') and cites like the following:

   For the past four years I have been teaching English to Spanish
During this time and to some degree without really realising it, I
have also
been refining the vowel sounds in my drilling voice to those that I
feel are
most suited for their voices (not their ears).  In a sense, I have
been catering
towards the sound of my students’ natural L2 accents rather than the
sound of
any native L1 English accent.

   Gopher Girl Virtual Assistance has launched a new website catering
towards mutual marketing for small business owners.

   For example, if you have a web site catering towards Bollywood
films, and you notice a strong contingent of users hailing from the
Middle East, it might prove profitable to translate your pages into
Arabic for that demographic to use if they wish to purchase films from
your web site. In addition, for a web site catering towards sports, if
you notice a particular demographic from a city or state not covered
on your pages, you might consider adding coverage to keep that
population coming back to your site.

in these three cites, some group (Spanish learners, small business
owners, Bollywood or sports fans) is being catered to, but this is
expressed via something associated with the group (a Spanish accent in
English, mutual marketing, Bollywood films/sports coverage), rather
than directly.


The American Dialect Society -

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