The E-primitive Thought Experiment


#41

I haven’t switched to e-prime myself but I think the difference is most apparent when you are arguing with someone! It’s different for someone to say you are lazy than for them to say you acted lazy today. Of course you could say you are acting lazy which means the same thing as the second but has to be of the first so maybe it doesn’t matter…but then I’d say there are other aspects to e-primtive such as making up names for places based on wild characteristics. Beaver valley rather than Thompson’s valley or whatever. If you say go to beaver valley and then follow hemlock stream uphill. The person will see the tree stumps and know they are there whereas Mr. Thompson is some 17th century settler long gone and it doesn’t mean anything. Or maybe I’m just making stuff up!


#42

I wish I could just “switch” to E-primitive/prime just like that but I don’ think it “is” that easy. I mean (E-primitively speaking): I want to get more used to speaking in E-prime for various reasons and I don’t feel that I can just “switch” it on or off or just switch fully over to it or with it (similar to what Willem just said) instantly. It take practice for a lot of us, me too. I just got into and started liking the sound of it and decided that I’d rather use it, yeah and slipping, everybody slips. Sometimes I even like to…slip. :slight_smile:


#43

It also helps to have people all around the place that use it (so offline, online, neighbors, friends, family, and so on) to receive a more natural feel and experience by growing up around it with other people that do it too.


#44

Plains,

In our Be-English mindset, we have a hard time understanding the difference between “I am sick” and “I feel sick”. Both express the same underlying concept, but they approach it from different mindsets. The latter tells the listener directly how you feel. The former implies how you feel by redefining yourself as the feeling.

The main problem e-primers tend to have with the verb “to be” lies in the way it redefines things and limits their existence.

At work, I analyze databases. To say I “am” a database analyst reduces me to one thing that I only happen to do for 40 hours (usually less) each week. It denies the other aspects of my life: the raising of my child, the love I have for plants, etc. By saying I “am” one thing and presenting myself to you with that definition of myself, I linguistically exclude the rest of my existence.

I think the “utility” of e-prime comes from waking up our minds to another way in which civilization lies to us. Granted, when we say “he’s a teacher; she’s a biologist; they are good people; we are Americans,” we don’t internally believe they have no other facets to their lives, but in the act of saying someone “is” one thing, we deny all the other possibilities. However, when we say “he teaches; she studies life; they treat others well; we live in a place the inhabitants refer to as America,” we still focus on only one facet, but we don’t deny the existence of the other facets in doing so.

Think about how we get to know a new person, about the questions we usually ask: “How old is he? What does he do for a living? Where is he from?” Our civilized minds want to reduce people to a handy set of concepts, to have a rigid framework in which to fit the person so that we know just what to expect from them. Because “a 34 year old, database analyst from Arkansas” tells a civilized person exactly what they need to know about me. Once they have these minute details about my life, they can pigeonhole me and encapsulate my life into a manageable piece of data. Moreover, they no longer have to worry about getting to really know me–until I start acting outside of their framework. Once I do something outside of the expected bounds for a “34 year old database analyst from Arkansas” I “become” something different–to that person. But in reality I “was” the “something different” all along.

I think that feral life (whether in terms of tracking animals and plants, judging the portents of the sky, listening to the hunting stories of our fellow tribalists) stands on unsure footing. Nothing in the feral world ever “is” just one thing. Knowing that, keeping the mind open, keeping the senses open, gives the feral man the tools he needs to constantly interact with the changing world.

When I stop asking myself “what is this” and start trying to more directly describe the facets of whatever lies before me, I realize that the thing I study with my senses can “be” many things–all at once–and that I need to attune my senses to all of those things. Moreover, I open myself up to the possibility for this thing in front of me to “be” something I can’t yet sense at all.


#45

M’kay folks.

A very fascinating read is an article in the April 16th issue of The New Yorker, The Interpreter: The puzzling language of an Amazon tribe. It discusses a challenge to Noam Chomsky's universal constant of recursive grammar (...an evolutionary adaptation that allowed us to juggle syntax and place one sentence within another to exponentially allow refinement in description, meaning and reason). So "unique" is this tribe's vocabulary and cultural outlook that fundamental reasoning skills and language structure taken for granted elsewhere falter sharply in this setting.

another article on the peeps:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,414291,00.html

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirah%C3%A3_language


#46

This might be (does might be count?) some interesting stuff. I think I maybe sorta redefined BE a long long time ago to always have a mental modifier identifying the might aspect.

Might is seemingly quite important.

For instance, I am saying I am X and Y but not Z, never Z, and undoubtably a sprinkle of Q on alternate Tuesdays, however, beneathe all that I believe I AM nothing aside from human, alive and mutable.

It all started when I read this axiom coined by the author Theodore Sturgeon, an author responsible for some really badass speculative fiction stories and progenitor of the phrase “Live Long and Prosper”, which is what I first thought of when I saw that Long Life Honey in the Heart book.

Anyway, some have written Sturgeon’s Law utilizing the following string of characters : ‘Nothing is always absolutely so.’

After seeing this and after much pondering and pontificating and boring all my poor buddies I decided to tweak my individual conception of ‘to be’, and suddenly, in my eyes, it isn’t so bad. I don’t really want to go through the curbing and the trimming and deracinating and constantly paying of attention neccessary to extricate it completely out of my lexicon.

Is is there and is could be staying till the day I abandon english.


#47

Cleveland High School-

(just kidding…I mean ‘CHS’!)

I think I maybe sorta redefined BE a long long time ago to always have a mental modifier identifying the might aspect.

I love this. This represents to me (almost) the whole point of e-prime. Yes, I’d love to see english change into a language that overtly encourages wise, clear, thinking, but I don’t know what the future will bring. I myself rarely speak in e-prime, though I write in it 100%.

So I mainly hope for e-prime to encourage that kind wise thinking-behind-the-words, if not a change in the words themselves.

For me, I find myself all-too-malleable when it comes to english affecting the way I think.

For science fiction/philosophy fans, I recommend checking out Robert Anton Wilson’s many books, including Quantum Psychology, for a peak at another way of looking at e-prime and the tinkering with one’s awareness.

Uncover blind spots! Tom Brown calls it “dead space”, and addresses his “dead spaces” (the places where, if he didn’t stop to wonder about it, he would never look or think about) with a religious zeal.


#48

This seems to me to embody the crux of e-prime. Things flux and change. Indigenous language speakers don’t have to relearn this concept because they never starting thinking of things as unchanging in the first place.


#49

Willem,
Reading that you mostly use “to-be” when not writing means a lot to me in a good way. Thanks for your insight. Reminds me of myself using it. Personally, I write in it 99% nowadays now that rewild.info has grabbed my attention and showed me E-prime and E-aboriginal. By “99%” I only mean this that I think I may sometimes mistakingly add a few hidden “to-be” in my writing, but, as far as I can see, most of it looks how I want it, without “to-be”. If anyone notices in my writing a hidden “to-be” or “to-be” feel free to tell me, I want to hear it pointed out.

Wildirix,

Thank you for the reminder. I feel very inspired by your feelings and the wisdom you just shared! [to self got to remember that]


#50

E-prime has definitely found me interested. In addition to the removal of absolutes, its use tends to put more focus on the true meaning of the sentence, rather than obscuring it behind layers of impersonal reference.

“E-prime is interesting” vs. “E-prime interests me”. Not only does the E-prime version rid of the “fact” that E-prime seems globally interesting, it also permits the personal aspect of the phrase to emerge. The E-prime version centres the entire sentence around me in relation to E-prime, not just the E-prime. Even the e-Prime-correct phrase “E-prime appears interesting” does not promote the kind of language I’d like to see used, because the sentence does not relate to an individual’s perspective. Sure, “E-prime appears interesting”. But to whom? I don’t care that E-prime “is” or even “appears” interesting, I want to know how it affects people.

Therein lies my focus on modifying the way I use language. I look forward to listening to people talk about themselves and their experiences with the planet and its occupants, rather than the strange way we handle words today.

I understand the idea that there exists more to rewilding our language than simply ridding of “to be”. Every sentence should ultimately deliver itself spoken and written from the direct perspective of a person. Heck, the vast majority of what I have just posted above lacks the presentation of a meaningful perspective.

Honestly, I cannot see the full return of the proper use of our language until we no longer care about anything but survival and the telling of our experiences with our surroundings. I would argue that even analyzing our language appears to lead to impersonal discussion – we still wind up dealing with the absolutes of how our language should perform. Of course we need to begin somewhere, and an attempt to begin rewilding finds itself at the top of the list.

You know, just writing the above reply opened my eyes a lot more. Prior to writing this, I hadn’t really thought of the “personal perspective” aspect. Just tucking words into sentences such as “seems”, “appears”, “stands”, and “sits” doesn’t cut it. The majority of the time we do so, all we manage is more communication lacking any true relevance.


#51

Yeah! Dontcha love it? Results, I want results! Theory doesn’t cut it for me. And my use of e-prime delivers results, thus earning my affection.

Honestly, I cannot see the full return of the proper use of our language until we no longer care about anything but survival and the telling of our experiences with our surroundings. I would argue that even analyzing our language appears to lead to impersonal discussion -- we still wind up dealing with the absolutes of how our language should perform.

Yes. Stick to results. It either works for you, or doesn’t. Absolutes don’t help the exception.

You know, just writing the above reply opened my eyes a lot more. Prior to writing this, I hadn't really thought of the "personal perspective" aspect. Just tucking words into sentences such as "seems", "appears", "stands", and "sits" doesn't cut it. The majority of the time we do so, all we manage is more communication lacking any true relevance.

Yes, I agree wholeheartedly about the limited utility of “seems” and “appears” (although I continue to explore stands/sits as they apply to the present imperfect. we need a present imperfect, i.e. “i (am) thinking”.). They just seem too weasely.

In fact, in a philosophical sense, perhaps they suggest “I haven’t as yet gained confidence that I see the essential, unchanging aspect of that object”. Will we ever find such a thing? I mean…we perceive, and our perceptions constantly change. What else do we need to know?


#52

This thread fascinates me. I find myself intreagued by e-prime. Since I first read this thread a few weeks ago, I observe things more closely and notice things that I never noticed before. I try to write in my journal avoiding to be verbs, and have found it a useful exercise.

Now I want to minimize being verbs in my speach.

How does one go about eradicating being verbs from one’s speach? I encounter extraordinary diffuculty in trying to elimnate these verbs from my speach. I suppose this comes from 30 years of living in a world that uses being verbs, about 28 of which I used being verbs myself. I must speak to communicate, but I cannot take unnatural pauses to reconstitute the structure of the sentence I want to say.

So how do I do this? Have any of you tried this? What tips do you use to erradicate being verbs from your speech?


#53

writing in e-prime helps me become more aware of “be” verbs in general. even though i still speak them–as speaking demands more immediacy of thought than writing–writing without them has helped me at least have an awareness of them while i speak.

hope that helps.


#54

[quote=“WildeRix, post:53, topic:91”]writing in e-prime helps me become more aware of “be” verbs in general. even though i still speak them–as speaking demands more immediacy of thought than writing–writing without them has helped me at least have an awareness of them while i speak.

hope that helps.[/quote]

Yes, writing in e-prime definitely makes me more aware of being verbs when I speak them. Perhaps over time my use of the being verbs will decline if I continue to write in this manner.


#55

kob-

I spoke in e-prime for a summer a couple years back. It challenged me a lot, and I came to a couple conclusions. If you’ve ever travelled to a foreign country to try out your language skills there, you basically will undergo the same experience using e-prime here. It helps to imagine yourself as a foreign visitor who has to translate “english” into your own logical system, much like when a hindu guy says things like “I am being one who is being very pickled at you!”. People who speak english as a second language often try to adapt english to their native language’s conceptual system.

In fact, I ran across a story, by Dr. David Bourland I think (an original e-prime user), where he tells an anecdote of a woman asking him “Where do you come from? You have such an interesting accent!”. He had no accent at all, except his absolute neglect of the verb to-be. People will adapt their ears to you, and come up with their own fascinating explanations.

You have to abandon A LOT of slang and colloquialisms. No more “whassappenin’?”, no more “what’s your sign?”, you’ll just have to reinvent ways to ask people how their lives have gone recently, and what their parents named them (instead of “what’s your name?”).

You’ll need to religiously stick to active tense. You’ll restart sentences a lot when you find you’ve started it in passive-voice construction.

Saying things like, “the problem with such-and-such is…”, “what I like about such-and-such is…”, “the thing is…” goes right out the window. Instead, you’ll say, “I see a problem about such and such, in that…”, “I like this about such-and-such”, etc. I laugh at [almost said “it’s funny”…] how well the previous examples illustrate the remarkable advantages of e-prime! Statements of what you observe, of action, of things doing things, will have to dominate your spoken e-prime.

This actually excites me to want to speak in e-prime! :slight_smile: I had a lot of fun that e-prime summer, not so long ago. Enjoy the hassle! Grin at the perversity! Notice how much people flap their lips, and say nothing! Convert arguments into e-prime observations, and watch the arguments dissolve! :slight_smile:

Please tell me if this has helped. I’ve thought about starting an “e-prime sandbox” here, where I (and others!) converse, including all my edits to show where “to-be” tempted me, and I had to find a way around it. Even this message featured three or so situations where i had to rethink a sentence. In spoken english, I love saying “The funny thing is…”. Why do I say that? What does that mean? I’ll have to think about a better way to express my own amusement.


#56

Willem
Your last post helped me with my e-prime, thank you. On top of that, I also thought about creating some forum or something (sandbox?) for us full-time e-prime practitioners, so that we can enage in talk will understand completely.

Anyone

I have three question: When communicating in e-prime does ‘being’ work, does ‘become’ work, does ‘maybe’ work???

One last thing, I see some people who say they wrote something fully in e-prime, but I read “seem” in their work when ‘seem’ doesn’t work. Correct me if I missed something.


#57

[quote=“Airique, post:56, topic:91”]>Willem
Your last post helped me with my e-prime, thank you. On top of that, I also thought about creating some forum or something (sandbox?) for us full-time e-prime practitioners, so that we can enage in talk will understand completely.[/quote]

Cool!

I have three question: When communicating in e-prime does 'being' work, does 'become' work, does 'maybe' work???

Here we enter into the “letter” vs. the “spirit” of e-prime. IMO, maybe fits the letter fine. Think of the word “perhaps” - means the same thing, right? “Become” matches “transform” as a synonym, but…perhaps it violates the “spirit” of e-prime a little bit. That deserves discussion probably. “Being”…well, another violation of the “spirit” probably, if perhaps not the letter, as it acts as a noun.

One last thing, I see some people who say they wrote something fully in e-prime, but I read "seem" in their work when 'seem' doesn't work. Correct me if I missed something.

What do you mean, exactly, by ‘seem’ not working? Though I have misgivings about ‘seem’, it fits the e-prime structure. Can you tell me more about what you’ve seen?


#58

Thanks Willem…

Your explanation helps tremendously. I need to reprogram my mind to think in e-prime. Reprogramming my and thinking in e-prime requires practice just as learning a foreign langugage. Eventually, my mind will morph and embrace e-prime as a mode of thought. Only then will my troubles in speaking in e-prime disipate.

I must think of e-prime as another language as I reconfigure sentence structures, but eventually the reconfigurations will come more naturally.


#59

Willem

Nothing exactly. I just thought ‘seem’ doesn’t work as a grammatical constituent of e-prime. I can’t remember where I recieved that thought, perhaps it just popped into my mind as I read something about the workings of e-prime wrongfully, which, obviously, misinformed me in the process. Thus, I stand corrected. I seriouly looked forward to some clearification on the subject because I didn’t feel 100% certain, as I do now, and you cleared that right up for me. Thanks you. To answer your second question (which I hope does), I can tell you this that I have one ‘misgiving’ (or ‘qualm’, if you will) about ‘seem’ too. Have you writen about yours anywhere publically? If so, and I don’t mean to pry, where? I’d love readin’em and, possibly, sharing my one.

Also, again, thanks for helping me out with my stance. I feel much more secure flowing with my e-prime now that I know ‘seem’ works, even though, I doubt I’ll ever use ‘seem’ in my e-prime purposefully because of my qualm wit it.


#60

my qualm with “seems” and “appears” and “find” has to do with the fact that they generally imply “to be”.

take the example “You seem happy.” not only does it function as an ellipses of “You seem to be happy”, but it also commits the exact same identification error as “You are happy”. it softens the equation by exchanging “are” (read: equal) with “seem” (read: might equal), but it still tends to make a type of equation.

does “seem” work with other verbs besides “to be”? i seem to think so (for example). so, could the elliptical usage of “seem” function to shortcut some other verb? possibly. the phrase “you seem to feel happy” commits no identification errors. so “seem” can work with other verbs, but when we use it by itself, as a verb, we generally use it as a linking verb.

to get even farther away from b-english’s identification errors, you could try saying something like “you look like you feel happy to me.”