Re: To be or not: An E-prime inquiry

Subject: Re: To be or not: An E-prime inquiry
From: Marguerite Krupp <mkrupp -at- CAYMAN -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 09:34:05 EDT

Sean O'Donnell-Brown wrote:

>Does anyone on TECHWR-L consciously and purposively resist to some degree or
>another using the forms of the verb "to be" (be, been, were, was, am, are, is)
>in their professional writing?
[stuff omitted]

>Also, has anyone conscioulsy and purposively RESISTED E-prime?

>I would like to hear reasons for you choices from both sides. I once believed
>prime practically (literally) impossible to implement, but after having read
>several E-prime essays lately, I've begun to believe differently. Convince me.

This sounds like one we could get a good thread going on! [...she said,
purposely ending a sentence with a preposition!]

I tend to lump initiatives like E-prime, Information Mapping, Caterpillar
Basic English (or whatever its successors are called now), etc., with
bra-burning and the novel that someone wrote without using the letter "e"
at all. They're all examples of an idea, good in itself, taken to an
extreme to make a point. Then it becomes something of a religion, and the
point gets lost.

Sure, the verb "to be" gets overused, especially since it supports the
passive voice. That doesn't mean we should do away with it altogether.
Frankly, I'd rather see a short, straightforward "is" than a longer
circumlocution inserted merely to avoid using the verb "to be."

The point *is* that all words are just tools in our toolbox. Ditto the
rules of grammar. It's up to the writer/editor, as a skilled craftsperson,
to use those tools appropriately to create an intangible called
"communication." And I, for one, don't want anyone arbitrarily removing
any of my tools.

What say you folks out there?

If April showers bring Mayflowers,
Waht do Mayflowers bring?

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