Re: E-prime -an interesting article.

M. E. Smith (
Mon, 11 Oct 1999 15:22:44 -0700 (PDT)

Yes, of course, but I've read articles advocating E-prime that actually use an equivalent statement (it might not have been Alabama) as an example of the terrible sentences made possible by the verb "to be". I even read one which actually used the phrase "is of identity", but it was obvious the author didn't know what the qualification "of identity" meant, because some of the examples of offending sentences were examples of the "is of existence".

If we were having this same conversation in Japanese about J-Prime, we wouldn't have the same problem, because in Japanese, there is no verb that means BOTH "to exist" AND "to be the same as, to equal". You just have the verb "desu":

"Watashi wa bengoshi desu" = "I am a lawyer"

and the verb "aru" (for animate things like humans)

"Watashi wa Alabama ni aru" = "I am in Alabama"

My point is that in English, throwing out all "to be" sentences throws out the baby with the bathwater, and articles about E-prime should at least point this out. The enemy of E-prime advocates is not "to exist", which a fine verb, right?

> The "is of existence" has its problems too,
> especially when one considers
> the eventuality of uploading. After uploading, where
> one lives and works and
> thinks does not necessarily equate to where one has
> one's carbon-based body
> or structure of origination.

Geez, you don't now mean to throw out verbs like "to exist", "to reside", "to live in". etc., do you? E-Prime++? Wherever will it stop? ;)

Seriously, if you advocate Libertarianism, you can't be in favor of forcing people to stop using the verb "to be", so don't you agree that E-prime is just a philosophical exercise? People are going to go on using the verb "to be" as long as it's a useful to do so.

Half of the time, E-prime advocates seem to be saying that we should say "IMHO" before every sentence we utter, which is silly.

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M. E. Smith
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