Re: E-prime

Subject: Re: E-prime
From: Matthew Schenker <Mattschenk -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 1995 11:49:19 -0400

Regarding recent posts about E-prime:

I spent a few years studying the use, and the theory behind, E-prime, and
used
E-prime in papers, and in some documentation. It is NOT, as some people say,
"standard" English. It is, actually, anything BUTstandard English. I don't
want to
get into a full-blown theory about it now (we could begin a more expansive
discussion about it if enough interest is generated from others on this
network).

Put simple, E-prime is English with all forms of the "to be" verb missing;
it's our
language (at least in theory) with all references that may cause bias,
ignorant
interpretation, or unthoughtful statements removed, with the belief that such
problems
were rooted in language, and especially the use of all forms of "to be." It
was believed
that much ignorance was rooted in the fact that when we talk or write about
the world,
we put our misguided beliefs into it It by saying that something "is
_______." By
removing the "to be" verb in all its forms, it was believed that people would
have to find another way to describe life, events, people, and would have to
think more seriously about the words they choose.

As I said, I have written in E-prime, being at one time taken with the
above-mentioned
theory. But I have come to realize that it doesn't accomplish what it sets
out to
accomplish. However, writing in E-prime is a good exercise in making
yourself
aware of how much we automatically rely on "to be" verbs to communicate
ideas.
It DOES indeed make you more aware of how you view events in life, or other
people. It was, as an English thoery, misguided, because the verbs we use to
describe people and events are the results, not the cause, of a way of
thinking:
it went about things backwards.

E-prime is a good discussions point, though, for a tech writing network,
because
the topic does have the potential to bring out some of our angles on
explanation
and description, which can help bring about clarity in technical
documentation.

Opinion, anyone?

Matthew


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