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Brad
Selfish Heathen
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Zone of Pain
 
2005-11-20, 22:08

Who here has read about or has practiced the art of "E-Prime"?

What does "E-Prime" mean? Well, the Wikipedia has a succinct definition:

Quote:
E-Prime, short for English Prime, refers to a modification of the English language that prohibits the use of the verb "to be" in all its forms.
I also found a good explanation here:

Quote:
E-PRIME, abolishing all forms of the verb "to be," has its roots in the field of general semantics, as presented by Alfred Korzybski in his 1933 book, Science and Sanity. Korzybski pointed out the pitfalls associated with, and produced by, two usages of "to be": identity and predication. His student D. David Bourland, Jr., observed that even linguistically sensitive people do not seem able to avoid identity and predication uses of "to be" if they continue to use the verb at all. Bourland pioneered in demonstrating that one can indeed write and speak without using any form of "to be," calling this subset of the English language "E-Prime." Many have urged the use of E-Prime in writing scientific and technical papers.

[...]

The forms of "to be" that E-Prime excludes includes the words: "is," "are," "were," "was," "am," "be," "been," and their contractions.
E-prime serves to help clarify the intentions and meanings behind the association of words. It probably also helps to improve your vocabulary by forcing you to choose verbs that are not as vague and ambiguous as "to be." Why bother? The second link above has some good examples; I particularly liked the lines about a photon's wave/particle duality.

I have had a bit of difficulty adapting to E-Prime, but I do enjoy the challenge and I think it can further improve my writing and language skills. I find most challenging having to avoid the progressive tense.

When I read years ago that Klingon (yes ) didn't have a word for "to be," I balked at the notion. How can a language not have a word as common and pervasively used as "to be?"

Well, this E-prime business got me thinking about languages in general. Spanish, for example, uses two different words, "ser" and "estar," as equivalents for the English "to be." However, these verbs serve very different functions. You use a form to "ser" to describe an intrinsic and permanent association whereas you use a form of "estar" to describe a temporary association. To describe the color of a book, you use "ser." To describe how you feel, you use "estar." Thinking about E-Prime, for me, really helps to illuminate that distinction.

So, does anyone else here feel like taking on the E-Prime challenge?

I wrote this post to conform to the rules of E-Prime.

The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
  quote
chucker
 
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2005-11-20, 22:20

I am unhappy that this is even still something to be.
  quote
torifile
Less than Stellar Member
 
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2005-11-20, 22:30

Language purists be damned. There are better things to be worrying about.
  quote
Brad
Selfish Heathen
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Zone of Pain
 
2005-11-20, 22:32

Quote:
Originally Posted by torifile
Damn the language purists. I have better things to worry about.
OK.
  quote
Kickaha
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2005-11-20, 22:34

Shakespeare would have been *SO* screwed...

"To be... or... aw fuck it."
  quote
torifile
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2005-11-20, 22:38

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
OK.


Nice. I'm pretty sure that I'd never be able to make have difficulty making this change.

All through high school, I got marked down for using the passive voice. I never quite understood what the problem was. I guess that's why I'm not a writer.... I wish I could write though. Seems like a fun thing to be able to do.

If it's not red and showing substantial musculature, you're wearing it wrong.
  quote
Brad
Selfish Heathen
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Zone of Pain
 
2005-11-20, 22:44

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Kickaha
Shakespeare would have been *SO* screwed...

"To be... or... aw fuck it."
Well, Klingons don't have a word that direct translates as "to be," but their original version of Hamlet reads just fine.

They simply use the verb "to endure" instead of "to be" in that line. That sounds right to me!

The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
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Wrao
Yarp
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Road Warrior
 
2005-11-20, 23:10

I respect language. I also respect the bastardization of it.
  quote
murbot
Hoonigan
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Canada
 
2005-11-20, 23:24

In my present mixed state of education and ignorance, E-Prime seems worse to me than shit.
  quote
ast3r3x
25 chars of wasted space.
 
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2005-11-20, 23:29

I talk passively, but not talking that way increases the quality of your writing.
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billybobsky
BANNED
I am worthless beyond hope.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Inner Swabia. If you have to ask twice, don't.
 
2005-11-20, 23:42

The verb 'To be' translates nearly universally. Why deny oneself such a powerful concept and word?
  quote
Paul
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: New York City
 
2005-11-21, 01:15

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
I wrote this post to conform to the rules of E-Prime.
minus your signature and user title, of course...
Quote:
Originally Posted by I AM AQUAMAN
The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.

Last edited by Paul : 2005-11-21 at 01:55.
  quote
chucker
 
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2005-11-21, 01:23

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul
minus your signature and user status, of course...
good call.
  quote
Wrao
Yarp
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Road Warrior
 
2005-11-21, 01:30

Reading about it some more, I agree with one of the critics of e-prime. E-prime has benefits for someone's writing style, and functions as a valuable tool/exercise for improving one's writing style, but, it's a poor substitute for common language conventions. As with most things of this nature, the answer is gray(or appears gray, whatever)
  quote
curiousuburb
Antimatter Man
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: that interweb thing
 
2005-11-21, 07:25

While the Hamlet example provides an interesting opportunity to explore historical fiction language constructions in the constructed language of a fictional history, the fact that Klingons shun passive voice (or in fact anything passive) in favour of more active and macho forms suggests it may appear an imperfect example.

Better perhaps to seek samples of self-absorbed navel-gazing poetry and prose in the sappy love song and/or emo genres. One might suggest a simple substitution of particularly passive-voice pop drivel to better illustrate E-Prime as an abstraction from, say, Yacht Rock.
  quote
AWR
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: State of Flux
 
2005-11-21, 07:56

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
I find most challenging having to avoid the progressive tense
Really? This DOES sound like Spock.

Interesting topic. I think that banishing ser, estar, etc., into oblivion would be a nightmare (see above), but then again so is the over-reliance on TO BE. [Insert what Wrao said.]

In law school they beat the passive voice out of my head. I have spent the last 7 years pounding it back into my head at the UN, where anything not passive is too direct and frowned upon. There is a common belief here that the passive voice is more formal. Used wisely, the passive voice is often quite useful; THAT said, most of the best writing that I have encountered stays clear of it.
  quote
billybobsky
BANNED
I am worthless beyond hope.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Inner Swabia. If you have to ask twice, don't.
 
2005-11-21, 13:16

How does one in E-prime indicate a state of hunger?

I am hungry.

I have hunger?

Are we french?
  quote
ast3r3x
25 chars of wasted space.
 
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2005-11-21, 13:19

Well we can't be, they are on notice. Also being boycotted by O'Reilly.
  quote
Kickaha
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2005-11-21, 13:21

Quote:
Originally Posted by billybobsky
How does one in E-prime indicate a state of hunger?

I am hungry.

I have hunger?
I feel hungry.

I feel hunger.

<kingofthehillreference>Make me some sammiches, woman!</kingofthehillreference>
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Crusader
Senior Member
 
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2005-11-21, 13:28

I hunger... for human flesh.

Language is flexible and as long as you can make yourself easily understood to the rest of the general populace (or just to the people you interact with), it really shouldn't matter what rules you follow. The English language is hard enough for one to comprehend in class anyway

My English teacher would kill me for that paragraph...

"It's a good thing there's no law against a company having a monopoly of good ideas. Otherwise Apple would be in deep yogurt..."
-Apple Press Release
  quote
Brad
Selfish Heathen
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Zone of Pain
 
2005-11-21, 13:34

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Kickaha
I feel hungry.
Exactly!

This not only satisfies the E-Prime directive; it also more accurately describes the situation. Hunger is a state of mind and can be influenced by many factors; so, using the more transient (and clearly subjective) verb "to feel" makes the original statement more correct.

The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
  quote
Grammar Police
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Grammar School
 
2005-11-21, 13:38

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crusader
My English teacher would kill me for that paragraph...
  quote
torifile
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2005-11-21, 13:44

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
Exactly!

This not only satisfies the E-Prime directive; it also more accurately describes the situation. Hunger is a state of mind and can be influenced by many factors; so, using the more transient (and clearly subjective) verb "to feel" makes the original statement more correct.
If "hunger" is an emotion, how is it not one of the 7 or 8 basic emotions found when doing cross-cultural research? It's actually inaccurate to refer to hunger as an emotion. Something along the lines of conveying the experience of hunger would be more accurate.

If it's not red and showing substantial musculature, you're wearing it wrong.
  quote
curiousuburb
Antimatter Man
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: that interweb thing
 
2005-11-21, 13:49

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
Exactly!

This not only satisfies the E-Prime directive; it also more accurately describes the situation. Hunger is a state of mind and can be influenced by many factors; so, using the more transient (and clearly subjective) verb "to feel" makes the original statement more correct.

But Cap'n, we cannae violate th' E-Prime Directive again.

Damnit Scotty, we violate it in damn near every episode. As does nearly every Trek Captain.
  quote
Brad
Selfish Heathen
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Zone of Pain
 
2005-11-21, 13:52

Quote:
Originally Posted by torifile
If "hunger" is an emotion...
In some cases, the verb "experience" may fit the scenario more accurately.

Although, the verb "feel" can easily refer to not just emotions alone, but also tactile sensations that result from experiences. You feel pain. You feel hot or cold. You feel someone poke you with a pencil. You feel hunger pangs. Does that makes sense?

The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
  quote
Wrao
Yarp
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Road Warrior
 
2005-11-21, 13:58

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
In some cases, the verb "experience" may fit the scenario more accurately.

Although, the verb "feel" can easily refer to not just emotions alone, but also tactile sensations that result from experiences. You feel pain. You feel hot or cold. You feel someone poke you with a pencil. You feel hunger pangs. Does that makes sense?
Wait, if the purpose of e-prime is to cut back on ambiguous verb usage, then 'feel' is inadequate because it doesn't describe whether you feel hungry emotionally, physically or a combination of both! am I missing something here?
  quote
ShadowOfGed
Travels via TARDIS
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Earthsea
 
2005-11-21, 14:03

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
Hunger is a state of mind
OK, so here's an interesting piece. If I were to rewrite that without using any form of "to be," I'd end up with some monstrosity along the lines of "Hunger exists only as a state of mind." Aww crap, I thought it would be worse. I had something hideous cooked up but this better example came out.

Anyhow, my point is this: sometimes, there are places where "to be" really is the best way of saying something, particularly in the above example, when trying to categorize something without bumbling around and saying something like "Hunger belongs in the same category as other mental states" or something equally lacking in the elegance department. At least I think so, but you can disagree.

Or am I just not well-versed enough in the English language to find a better verb?

This post was not engineered to be E-Prime compliant.

Apparently I call the cops when I see people litter.
  quote
SKMDC
superkaratemonkeydeathcar
 
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2005-11-21, 14:07

Objectifying hunger is unnecessary, one would assume hunger to refer to the dietary variety.
Hunger of any other sort would need further clarification.
  quote
Wrao
Yarp
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Road Warrior
 
2005-11-21, 14:10

Quote:
Originally Posted by SKMDC
Objectifying hunger is unnecessary, one would assume hunger to refer to the dietary variety.
Hunger of any other sort would need further clarification.
One would assume this from "I am hungry" as well. But, according to E-prime, they would be wrong to assume so? I'm still a little hazy on some of this E-prime stuff, but, at its core it seems to want to make language less assumptions based and more objective. If that's the case, then leaving any part of the language upto assumptions is not E-prime compliant. But... perhaps the e-prime enthusiasts can shed some light on the matter?
  quote
SKMDC
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2005-11-21, 14:12

I find it helpful to hear Spock's voice when I type.

When......I hear........Kirk's voice.........Itypelikethis.
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