Re: E. Prime or what?

Subject: Re: E. Prime or what?
From: Bill Burns <WBURNS -at- VAX -dot- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 1995 09:23:26 MDT

>> My tech writing professor said there was a lot of discussion
on TECHWR-L about "E. Prime" or "E-Prime"... meaning the basic,
"standard" English language.

I can't say I know too much about E-prime, but I do remember one point on the
use of "be" constructions and verbs. Essentially, proponents consider
the use of "be, is, am, are, was, were, being, been" superfluous. They point
out that the use of "be" verbs promotes lax usage and lazy speech habits. It
also creates the illusion of static phenomena. When a speaker says, "It is
cold," they indicate a condition in a manner that suggests permanence or
equality. I find this second argument a bit inane, but I haven't seen any
clear outlines for this position. However, I agree with the point that
overuse of "be" verbs can encourage poor speech and writing habits. I try to
limit my use of those verbs.

BTW, if you reread my posting, you'll see that I've avoided the use of "be"
forms. I sense one drawback to this approach: my prose sounds awfully
egocentric. Of course, maybe that attribute just reveals another feature
of E-prime--transparency of authorial persona.

Guess I need to check my id at the door. :-)

Bill Burns * These are MY opinions,
Assm. Technical Writer/Editor * MINE I TELL YOU!
Micron Technology, Inc. *
Boise, ID * (not that they amount to much. . .)
WBURNS -at- VAX -dot- MICRON -dot- COM *

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