"A Man's a Man for all that!" - Rabbie Burns

"Religion? No thanks. I prefer not to outsource my brainwashing." - Bunc
Trying to get your average Joe creationist to understand the phrase scientific theory is as hard as getting a fish to enjoy mountaineering. Its an unimagined world for them - it requires a complete reversal of their normal modes of thinking and being. The fact that humans could explain the complexities of this world without a creating God is a world view they cannot grasp. It's like asking a tuna if it appreciates the view from the top of Mount Everest. Bunc

Sep 22, 2010

An E-Prime Challenge

When we express our thoughts in writing or speech the actual words that we choose to use clearly make a big difference to the quality of our communications. But what if there exist certain words in our language, indeed certain language concepts, expressed by particular words, that obscure good communication, clarity of thought and constructive debate?

The proponents of E-Prime appear to suggest that we should avoid using the verb "to be"  because of this . Writing and speaking English without the use of the verb "to be" delivers our arguments with more clarity and transparency suggest the proponents of this form of English.

For anyone who hasn't come across E Prime Wikipedia has a good primer on the subject here and you can find another good article and links here. ( The article at the second link goes into more depth about the psychology, linguitics and philosophy of why using E-Prime improves clarity)

I pose a challenge to bloggers reading this article as follows. In your next post, on any subject, you should attempt to write the whole article using the E Prime approach. In other words you must not use the verb "to be", in any of its forms, in your article. I would ask that you then post a link back to your article here and leave a comment here. This will allow readers to see what sort of results you achieve when you follow the E Prime approach.

You will note that I have written this post using the E Prime approach and that the verb "to be" does not appear in this post except when quoted.

EDIT: I thought I had managed to write this whole post without using the verb to be and immediately after posting it I found two errors. I found it harder writing in this way than I imagined.

EDIT 2: Aagh ! I found yet another and had to amend again. Those "to be" verbs hide all over the place.


rummuser said...

Okay. Shall certainly try next week and link back.

Bunc said...

I have discovered that it pushes me to write more in the active rather than the passive voice which according to plain english adherents is a good thing.

Marf said...

And this is why I hated English classes when I was in school. Even after reading the Wikipedia article and that other E-Prime site you linked to, I have no comprehension of this concept.

Bunc said...

It is probably better not to bother reading the articles then. It simply boils down to not using the verb "to be" - so no use of the words am,is,are,was,were.

rummuser said...

Could not do it "next week", as it completely disappeared from my memory. It will appear positively next week!

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