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

Subject: Re: To be or not: An E-prime inquiry
From: Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 11:02:17 -0400

Marguerite Krupp writes about E prime:


> 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.

No argument here.

> 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."

I read about E prime for the first time in this forum, and decided to
give it a shot to see if I could tell a difference in my writing.

First, you have to *work* to eliminate all forms of the verb "to be"
from your writing, especially technical definitions. Deliberately using
stronger verbs doesn't come naturally, and forces you into a difficult
but useful analysis of what you want to say.

I'd call E prime a worthwhile effort. My "is-less" writing conveyed more
information in less words, with a crisper and sharper style (IMHO). I
encourage you to rewrite something using an E prime approach, and see if
you notice a difference. Sometimes, you need to restructure what you
said initially when you rewrite like this, but even that usually results
in a useful bit of insight.

I wrote this message without using any forms of "to be", except in text
references. Can you draw any conclusions about the precision or the
clarity of this message? Probably not, but I still encourage you to try
it out and see how it affects the way you think as you write.

|Len Olszewski, Project Manager | "If the shoe fits, it's ugly." |
|saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com|Cary, NC, USA| - Gold's Law |
| Opinions this ludicrous are mine. Reasonable opinions will cost you.|

Previous by Author: Re: I've had enough of Andreas; how about you?
Next by Author: Re: E-Primer
Previous by Thread: Re: To be or not: An E-prime inquiry
Next by Thread: To be or not: An E-Prime inquiry

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads