E-Prime & Other Extremes

Subject: E-Prime & Other Extremes
From: doug montalbano <doug_montalbano -at- CC -dot- CHIRON -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 14:59:39 PST

On 5/5/94, Marguerite wrote (in reply to Sean O'Donnell-Brown):

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.

Well, frankly, I'm glad people have done all these things. These efforts
show style taken to the extreme -- the limits of a particular stylistic
device. By finding these limits, we as writers know better where we can go
with our efforts. We're able to focus on *when* to use certain devices and
*for whom*.

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.

Well said. And our tools become more effective in part *because* some
others have taken things like E-Prime to the limit.

Doug (th'other one)

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