Jan 31, 2020, 8:59 AM
—“Curt Doolittle, Can you help explain e prime for a newbie? (E prime is a the language taught in Propertarian circles – to reduce every statement down to an operational level – to test it for truth.)”—Rae Liera
I don’t think it’s that hard:
E-Prime (short for English-Prime or English Prime, sometimes denoted É or E?) is a version of the English language that excludes all forms of the verb to be, including all conjugations, contractions and archaic forms. Some scholars advocate using E-Prime as a device to clarify thinking and strengthen writing.
PRETENSE OF KNOWLEDGE
Kellogg and Bourland describe misuse of the verb to be as creating a “deity mode of speech”, allowing “even the most ignorant to transform their opinions magically into god-like pronouncements on the nature of things”. Use of E-Prime reduces the possibility of deception, suggestion, misunderstanding or conflict.
Korzybski observed improvement “of one full letter grade” by “students who did not generalize by using that infinitive”. In other words, you will dramatically improve your own understanding and ability to communicate by writing in eprime.
So, P uses Disambiguation by serialization and operationaliztion, and ePrime, written in complete sentences (transactions), where complete sentences or sets of sentences (full accounting) describe changes in state of demonstrated interests (investments). This produces a value neutral financial or economic language of psychology, ethics, sociology, and politics. It is also, like accounting, very difficult to ‘fudge’ (lie).
DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS OF THE VERB TO-BE
In the English language, the verb ‘to be’ (also known as the copula) has several distinct functions, all of which are reducible to “testimony on the terms of existence”.
1. identity, of the form “noun copula definite-noun” [The cat is my only pet]; [The cat is Garfield]
2. class membership, of the form “definite-noun copula noun” [Garfield is a cat]
3. class inclusion, of the form “noun copula noun” A
4. predication, of the form “noun copula adjective” [The cat is furry]
5. auxiliary, of the form “noun copula verb” [The cat is sleeping]; [The cat is being bitten by the dog]. The examples illustrate two different uses of ‘be’ as an auxiliary. In the first, ‘be’ is part of the progressive aspect, used with “-ing” on the verb; in the second, it is part of the passive, as indicated by the perfect participle of a transitive verb.
6. existence, of the form “there copula noun” [There is a cat]
location, of the form “noun copula place-phrase” [The cat is on the mat]; [The cat is here]
Bourland sees specifically the “identity” and “predication” functions as pernicious, but advocates eliminating all forms for the sake of simplicity. In the case of the “existence” form (and less idiomatically, the “location” form), one might (for example) simply substitute the verb “exists”. Other copula-substitutes in English include taste, feel, smell, sound, grow, remain, stay, and turn, among others a user of E-prime might use instead of to be.
Words not used in E-prime include: be, being, been, am, is, isn’t, are, aren’t, was, wasn’t, were, and weren’t.
Contractions formed from a pronoun and a form of to be are also not used, including: I’m, you’re, we’re, they’re, he’s, she’s, it’s, there’s, here’s, where’s, how’s, what’s, who’s, and that’s. E-Prime also prohibits contractions of to be found in nonstandard dialects of English, such as “ain’t”.
General semantics was a self improvement movement that (roughly) suggested that if you improve the use of your language so that it is more correspondent to reality (or something at least) that you will train yourself (similar to stoic rituals in list making) to have greater understanding and mindfulness of the world.
I would state this differently in that P logic using the above techniques seeks to create a value neutral standard of weights and measures by which we interpret the world, that is the most parsimonious system of weights and measure that is possible – and – is most correspondent consistent and coherent with the world. (this is the aristotelian project).
P IS THE OPPOSITE OF POSTMODERNISM
The opposite proposition of P is that of Theology, Postmodernism, and Generative Anthropology, all of which attempt social construction that is non-correspondent, inconsistent, non-coherent with reality in order to use deception to coerce people into submission to some narrative of desirable or undesirable deceit.
In other words, there is leftist postmodernism (social construction) and rightist postmodernism (social construction) and both are means of deceit in order to compensate for lack of military and economic power. In other words, this is the purvey of pseudoscientists, financialists, mystics and priests: deception.
And yes, I realize, people have a hard time with reality and want comforting deceits. But there are three other choices: physical ritual, buddhist and stoic-epicurean self discipline (emotional), and the scientific truth (intellectual). All three produce mindfulness without ‘the big lies of social constructions.’
ORIGINS OF EPRIME
D. David Bourland Jr., studied under Alfred Korzybski, and devised E-Prime as an addition to Korzybski’s general semantics in the late 1940s.
Bourland published the concept in a 1965 essay entitled “A Linguistic Note: Writing in E-Prime”
Bourland collected and published three volumes of essays in support of his innovation.
– To Be or Not: An E-Prime Anthology (1991)
– More E-Prime: To Be or Not II (1994)
– E-Prime III: a third anthology, published (1997).
LINKS TO PAPERS ONLINE
( FYI: Bill Joslin Brandon Hayes )