More E-prime (Was: Hyper Cognitive Selectivity)

Freeman Craig Presson (
Thu, 8 Jul 1999 21:32:16 -0500

On 7 Jul 99, at 13:03, wrote:

> >I experimented with e-prime for several years.
> >Try it, you'll (perhaps) like it.
> What do you think about the is of gerund, as in "he is walking"?
> How about the is of passivity? "The door was closed"?
> I've used e-prime for a while myself, but it seems a bit of an unnecessary
> hassle in at least the first case.
> Thoughts?

My experience tracks Anders': the experiment of writing in E-prime taught me some things about language and helped me tighten up some of my prose. Having done the exercise, I didn't feel any need to keep doing it all the time. I notice all the "IS THIS" and "IS THAT" in people's speech and writing when they express strong opinions now, and it appears to me that the discipline of E' might allow them to reconsider some of their naked assertions.

"Is not!" "Is too!" -- timeless children's argument.

I remember hearing a radio interview a few years ago with someone who had taught himself to speak E' fluently. He sounded slightly pedantic but very clear. For all I know, he sounded pendantic and unclear before :-)

I notice that when I write about E' or g.s. topics, I tend to lapse into E'.

Many of the basic ideas of g.s. show up in introductions to communication nowadays, and taken out of their cloak of Korzybskian jargon, sound like simple propositions that we should have known all along. Example: each sapient has accumulated knowledge and prejudices that act to filter what s/he hears and thinks. A unit of meaning (meaning(A)) bubbles up through all the layers of Alice's mind, gets encoded into message(A) according to her thought and speech patterns, sent out over a potentially noisy medium, perceived by Bob's sight or hearing, filtered through similar layers in his mind, decoded into message(B), and finally interpreted into meaning(B). The communication succeeds in proportion to the extent that meaning(B) resembles meaning(A).