Re: E-Prime (was Re: BOOKS: Recommendations)

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 7 May 1997 01:40:13 -0700 (PDT)

> >I think E-Prime fails to solve the problem, and even exacerbates it
> >by making people think they can avoid fuzzy thinking by playing
> >silly word-games with a broken language instead of doing actual work
> >to think and communicate more clearly.
> E-prime generally helps with clarity and honesty. It bars passive voice
> (mistakes were made) and unsubstantiated generalizations (people are dumb).
> You can certainly get around these obstacles, but at least e-prime makes you
> think about actors, assertors, and evidence. When I write in e-prime, I tend
> to have to mention actors, assertors and evidence, and that makes my writing
> easier to understand and harder to misunderstand.
> If you *want* to hide the actors, assertors, or evidence, you certainly can.
> You often have to use expressions even harder to understand than the passive
> voice you avoided in the first place. Still, using e-prime encourages zip
> and clarity.

I agree that using E-Prime or [shameless plug] Lojban can often enlighten.
The message to which I replied suggested far more than merely using E-Prime
as an interesting exercise, but actually proposed that we point out postings
here that violated it. I suggest we do something far more valuable: point
out actual sloppy thought, however expressed, and applaud clear thought,
however expressed. "To be" and passive voice can be used quite properly
and effectively (as in this sentence where omitting the actor is quite
deliberate to imply a general rule), and I make no apologies for either.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>  <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC