pertain toward

Caught in a radio interview while I was half asleep: pertain toward where I would say pertain to (dictionaries give to as the appropriate preposition here). I’ve googled up some more examples — maybe 50 relevant ones, for example:

Trust seems to pertain toward your overall (longterm) feelings about someone. On the contrary, you can “believe” someone or something for a single instant or in reference to a specific idea. (link)

Students who wish to apply for any type of financial aid (except merit-based scholarships and  non Work-Study student assistant positions) must:
1.  be enrolled in classes that pertain toward their degree plan each semester… (link)

I have heard the term “dog ear” a few times, and was wondering what exactly is “dog eared” and how does it pertain toward weapons? (link)

Make sure that if you are calling up consumers, you check the “do not call” list and follow the laws and regulations that pertain toward telemarketing. (link — from Donny Lowy, Secrets of Ebay)

My speculation is that some speakers see toward as a more elegant, more serious variant of to, at least in some abstract (rather than motional) uses, and toward might then be encouraged some by the register of pertain.

There are cases where to and toward are both possible, and are close (though not necessarily identical) in meaning, as in relate to/toward [someone].

My search for examples of pertain toward ‘pertain to’ pulled up one somewhat different sort of example, from the “official Gillian Anderson website”, in an interview with the actor Gillian Anderson by Rod Dovlin dated 8/29/97:

QUESTION: So, what have drawn from your past that you’re able to pertain toward your character?

GILLIAN: The ability to pretend. I was a good liar as a child.

This appears to have pertain toward ‘make pertain/pertinent to’, a causativization of intransitive pertain: you’re able to make something from your past pertain to/toward your character.

Causativizations of intransitives are pretty common, though they are often disparaged when people see them as innovations, as in an e-mail exchange initiated by a comment from Peter Sagal (of NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me!), who complained about Sarah Palin’s using progress as a transitive verb, as in this excerpt from her resignation speech:

It’s pretty insane – my staff and I spend most of our day dealing with THIS instead of progressing our state now. I know I promised no more “politics as usual,” but THIS isn’t what anyone had in mind for ALASKA.

Phil Resnick googled up some examples from more formal contexts, and Mark Liberman noted that the OED has an entry for transitive progress, with cites, in a variety of contexts, going back to 1780 and continuing through 2002 (plus some usage commentary on the verb).

Transitive pertain to/toward hasn’t made it into the OED, though.

2 Responses to “pertain toward”

  1. Joe Says:

    I often find myself using transitive verbs in that way, but only in my inner monologue, never aloud, since that would just confuse people.

    As for the ‘pertain to/toward’ thing, it seems like most of the examples of using ‘toward’ don’t differ from ‘to’ in usage or effect to warrant using a whole different word. Though the first example is a good usage in my opinion.

    “Trust seems to pertain toward your overall (longterm) feelings about someone.”

    It seems like they’re trying to say that “trust pertains ‘in the general direction of'” and not, “pertains ‘directly to'”

    I’m so glad I found someone out there that cares about this stuff as much as I do!

  2. Annals of causativization « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Some discussion of causative progress here on this blog (along with causative pertain to/toward), starting with an e-mail exchange initiated […]

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