The E-primitive Thought Experiment


yeah i don’t know. what animals are cool? judging by the childrens letters to santa the coolest wild animals are coyotes, wolves, eagles and snakes. That’s what they all ask for. I would use eagle to describe something big much like the word horse is used for robust plants, horsemint, horsechestnut. Like, “man that’s a fucking eagle crow, are you sure it’s not a raven?” Wolf is a good word, short like" cool", but badass like “wicked”… but I think the way I pronounce it people would just think I was saying “woof.”


Bo (like the tree the buddha sat under when he turned special)

I overheard this used once as what seemed like a positive modifier. Her exact words, “That’s so bo.” I don’t know what was so bo, or what she meant by that, & It confused me because I’d been of walking and biking in a different state intoning BOOOOOOOOO for like, months.


Perhaps she meant “bo” as in french for beau-tiful, “beau”.


I’ve linguisted for a while, and have experimented with some friends a bit with language, especially relating to place. I don’t really know much about indigenous language, though; we have been crafting things from scratch and based on what other languages I speak. Do many indigenous languages have the concept of finished and unfinished action, or is it more fluid? When I first started creating words, I went for the simplistic approach, for the convenience and ease of learning: take the basics of communication, and get rid of all superfluous vocab. For example, germanic and romance languages use a distinction between singular and plural nouns, but japanese doesn’t differentiate between them, and the japanese communicate just fine. Therefore we didn’t actually need singular and plural usage to communicate. This distillation created a very utilitarian and easy to learn language, a useful characteristic to a person learning it as a second language. However, working within the limits of civilized languages limited my perception as well, especially with regard to the passage of time. Romance languages use crazy amounts of tenses; english less so; japanese even less. How do indigenous languages express time?



Hey Roxy!

Their concept of time seems to differ from language to language…Mohawk has a quite elaborate system of past tenses. One thing I have noticed involves a (near?) universal theme of not defining the future…saying “i will go catch a fish” involves such prophetic arrogrance, apparently, that it seems a rather modern notion. ‘I will go fishing’, however, reflects what one can actually control. In Chinuk jargon you can’t say ‘I want to go fishing’, you can only say ‘I will’, another odd layer. One can’t impotently ‘wish’ for a future activity, one either will do it, or not.

Benjamin Lee Whorf has lots of interesting things to say about Hopi concepts of past/present/future activity, in his book Language, Thought, and Reality. He says they divide the world into ‘manifest’ and ‘unmanifest’. Present and past falls into ‘manifest’, that which we can see manifested around us. The future growth of a tree, or prayers, or a not-yet-arrived season, falls into ‘unmanifested’. He insisted the importance of the distinction here, between a ‘manifestation’ paradigm, and a ‘time-line’ paradigm. One also refers to one’s thoughts and in the ‘unmanifested’ tense. If I understood it better, I’d go on about it more, it sounds so intriguing. Manifest and Unmanifest have no particular ‘order’ (as in one coming first and the other second), they simply denote our relationshiop to experience and observation. I feel like I should go dig the book up and give this a better description…I’ll probably learn more from another crack at it.

I find these semantic (semantic signifying ‘meaning’, not ‘pickyness’, an unfortunate and absurd connotation) differences between indigenous and modern languages fascination. One time, studying a little Lakota, I read in Albert White Hat’s Lakota instruction book an anectdote about some Lakota adults and a couple of teenagers at a community center. Everyone speaking in lakota, the teenager had just finished giving voicing some opinion. One of the elders leaned into another and murmured, “he speaks pretty good english”. Meaning: everything we take for granted in english, the ‘it’ of objectified reality, the preponderance of nouns, even the order in which our language conceives and speaks about reality, marks it as a profoundly different mental activity than the indigenous. Thus people talk about three different Lakota languages: Urban, Evangelical, and Traditional. The urban and evangelical share sounds and some structure, perhaps, with Traditional, but it ends there. Just think what would happen to hopi if urban schooled hopi kids decided that ‘manifested’ just meant ‘past tense’, and changed their languaging accordingly. You’d lose an entire sphere of wisdom and perspective.


Like Buffy!! ;D


the vampire slayer?



The dialogue is actually pretty smart and they do the “verbify” bit all the time…

Hey, a use for pop culture! ;D


I’ve watched all 7 seasons of Buffy, so I can attest to their verby-ness. Actually, even without the verb consciousness, viewers of that show remain aware of Joss Whedon’s constructed ‘valley-girl’ teen language. It sounds like something someone would speak somewhere…but he made it all up. Really interesting.

Watch enough of those shows in a row and you start seeing the world in terms of ‘talismans’ and metaphorical ‘demons’. Weird.


i totally concur that the whedonverse writers could turn a phrase. and i loved where the definition of demon kept heading: that demons are people too, just with a much older pedigree.

joss did some nice phrase-turning with firefly, too, in his “china will be the next superpower, so my characters will cuss in chinese” dialogue.

in fierfly and serenity, “shiny” was the slang for “good”. probably not wild enough for what you’re looking for, though, penny. but in terms of the way i hope that the plants will swallow up the artifacts of civilization after the crash, maybe “leafy” will be the new slang for “good” or “cool”.


Ha! That’s awesome!

I think I’m going to start using that…


I just wanted to give y’all a heads up to another great book on a rewilding of language. This may surprise you, but “Nonviolent Communication” (also known as “compassionate communication”), by Marshall Rosenberg, has some amazing things to say about thinking and speaking in terms of what you observe and experience, rather than outmoded paradigms of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’. In fact he starts out the book describing the ways of modern languages as languages of enslavement, a linguistic tradition originating with the birth of civilization and ‘power-over’ (as opposed to ‘power-with’).

In fact that book has directly inspired a lot of my writing and paradigm shifts, which I express in terms of the Empathic Way, and it’s sequel.

Really fun stuff.


Yeah, I like that word too. Another one that doesn’t even get that much use is “fathering”, which is a shame cause I think that would prolly help with the absent father situation we have in this country…


The hippies had “groovy”; I see no reason why we shouldn’t have “leafy.” ;D


Haha :slight_smile: Calvin and Hobbes. Genius. I can hardly believe it.ROTFL.

The hippies had "groovy"

Was that because they were always trying to start fires with their fire plows?

Oh, shit, I just turned into a feral nerd, didn’t I? Trying to make esoteric jokes–that’s a definite sign.


Haha. You remind me of my botanist boss last summer. You’d be amazed at how many scientific names make for bad puns! Don’t worry, I like it.


awesome, i got the penny seal of approval!

i bet binomials do lend themselves to terrible puns. do you remember any of your bosses really bad ones?


Err…hazelnut is Corylus americana and our computer woman back in the office was named Cory…so if she didn’t come into work we would be Cory-less. That’s a particularly bad one, but for some reason the only one I can remember.


“Err…hazelnut is Corylus americana and our computer woman back in the office was named Cory…so if she didn’t come into work we would be Cory-less. That’s a particularly bad one, but for some reason the only one I can remember.”

The above in E-prime/primitive:

Err…hazelnut also goes by the name Corylus americana and our computer women back in the office we call, Cory…so if she didn’t come into work we’d go “Coryless”. Bad example, but for some reason the only one I can remember ;).