The E-primitive Thought Experiment


#61

RwildRix

I love that post, as for the quote from it: I think one could simplify it by saying, instead, “To me you look happy.” that works, right?. Does, “To me you feel happy” work as well. I play with both of’em to gain practice communicating less words, and I try to not put the ‘to me’ at the end in-order-to avoid any unneeded surprisal tonnage towards my audience, who-tries-to-avoid-surprises, to a minimum, in that, from placing “to me” at the beginning of my sentence, instantly, all my audience can see that everything I say after ‘to me’ will come from my senses and no others, eradicating any surprise ending that might take away from the spiritedness of what I mean to say. At the same time, incase I forget to add the ‘to me’ at the beginning, I hope to remember it at the end, to me. See what mean!? To me, because of the ‘to me’ placement in that last sentence, it sounded like it lost its meaning and read weird. So, because of that, I try putting my “to me(s)” at the beginning of my observative and descriptive sentences.

Mods: RXmy quote of yours did not show up. So i fixed it.


#62

I’d prefer “your smiling infects me”, “I can see a joy in your eyes”, “your emotions improve my mood”, and possibly even something naturalistic such as “I sense rainbow in your soul”. Notice how all my versions demonstrate how I observe the happiness through my senses; ultimately, I’d like to see all language as coming from direct observation, without any absolute facts or generalizations. :slight_smile:


#63

Actually, an alternative I could imagine would have each statement declaring a “fact”, but that the language itself would have no concept of facts; each “fact” intentionally marks an individual’s perspective. The phrase “you are happy” in such a language would (in our current language) interpret itself as “to me, you are happy”. Think about it, we only dislike “to be” verbs because they state facts. If the language has no concept of facts, then “to be” can no longer state facts.

Simple. Teach the next generation of people in such a way that their language quite literally has no way of stating facts; everything comes from a personal observation, nothing more. We don’t necessarily need to modify the language itself; rather, we change the meaning behind the words we use. Language exists as an interpretation; we can change that interpretation.


#64

nice! rock the e-prime casaba!


#65

Has anybody read either of Tom Harmer’s books, Going Native and What I’ve Always Known: Living in Full Awareness of the Earth? Really excellent books IMHO–I’d love to discuss if anyone knows 'em.

I wish I had them handy right now to refer to, already gave them back to the library. But I remember a peculiar language thing the Okanogan Salish elder used that seems almost backwards from e-prime. Maybe someone translated oddly, but he would say “your want” or “my want” to do this or that, instead of “i want” or “you want”, making the verb into a noun with a possessive modifier. As I was reading I kept thinking it sounded like a pidgin way of shortening “My want (desire) is” to do this or that. . . WTF?

They also used a cool Salish word that I wish I coud remember for seeing everything at once, peripheral vision, like we did in SHIFT.


#66

Alright, you’ve sold me. I’ve put both books on hold at the library. I’ll update you after I’ve read them.


#67

[quote=“Urban Scout, post:1, topic:91”]E-prime (or english-prime) refers to using the english language without the verb “to be.”

After living in a several thousand year old sedentary culture, our language has changed quite a bit. No indigenous languages have a verb “to be.” To Be attempt to fix and tame the constantly changing world. This is that, for example. I believe that the verb To Be originated from this culture from our perception of masters over the planet. Gods. Only gods get to decide what “is” and “isn’t.”

Indigenous languages have a shape and form that flows like the land. Can we ever change our own language to match this flow? I believe using e-prime can help. Willem has studied various indigenous language and how they structured their sentences. He has added this structure to e-prime and calls it e-primitive. I like that a lot… but I still don’t quite grasp it.[/quote]

Could you elaborate more on this? How does the verb “to be” have to do with being masters of the Earth? I mention this only because when I use that voice, I use it to describe things I could describe before, and obviously, to conduct thought experiments like Hamlet’s “to be or not to be…” This doesn’t make sense to me. It’s interesting, but quite confusing to me.

How was E-Prime formed? Was it created in the context of understanding indigenous languages?


#68

Please take the time to read through this entire thread. All of your questions are answered here in. If you have more when finished, please ask away.


#69

Urban Scout,

Thanks. I guess I was a little confused with what I saw. I’ll read the thread a little more carefully. My apologies for asking a redundant question.


#70

A manifest/unmanifest paradigm would completely rid one’s worldview of anything that cannot exist in the physical world. Concepts like “purity” and “king” and “separated” and “rich” and “deity” would disappear since they cannot manifest… seems like that would wipe out altogether the cognitive basis of civilization.


#71

A manifest/unmanifest paradigm would completely rid one’s worldview of anything that cannot exist in the physical world. Concepts like “purity” and “king” and “separated” and “rich” and “deity” would disappear since they cannot manifest… seems like that would wipe out altogether the cognitive basis of civilization.[/quote]

I dunno.

I don’t know Hopi at all, but this sounds somewhat like Japanese’s 2 tense system (perfect vs imperfect; in the sense that something is completed/manifest or it isn’t complete/manifest), and they’ve been able to maintain concepts like “deity” and “emperor”. Am I misunderstanding how Hopi works?

Anyone know a good source for the Hopi language?


#72

[quote=“jhereg, post:71, topic:91”][quote author=Paula link=topic=62.msg3208#msg3208 date=1185763376]
A manifest/unmanifest paradigm would completely rid one’s worldview of anything that cannot exist in the physical world. Concepts like “purity” and “king” and “separated” and “rich” and “deity” would disappear since they cannot manifest… seems like that would wipe out altogether the cognitive basis of civilization.
[/quote]

I dunno.

I don’t know Hopi at all, but this sounds somewhat like Japanese’s 2 tense system (perfect vs imperfect; in the sense that something is completed/manifest or it isn’t complete/manifest), and they’ve been able to maintain concepts like “deity” and “emperor”. Am I misunderstanding how Hopi works?

Anyone know a good source for the Hopi language?[/quote]

I guess it would depend on the “manifest.” I was assuming it would be limited to something like “self-manifest,” but now with the benefit of a few hours’ sleep I realize that’s unrealistic. But it does make me curious about languages that can’t accommodate abstractions like “king” and “deity”… it seems there would be no way, cognitively, for those things to get a foothold.


#73

I’ve now read the discussion. It truly does interest me. However, I’m actually a busy person and don’t really have a lot of time to participate in many discussions as a result. But I do have one question.

I’m curious–since we are all discussing these ideas in standard English, do you foresee yourselves abandoning this form of English totally, allowing our language to change over time, or becoming “bi-lingual?” That is, the ability to understand both variations of English, or multiple variations. Obviously if we are all speaking in standard English, there is a value to it, and when someone does understand E-prime (or E-primitive, or whatever), they do technically become bilingual.

I mention this because English is not the only language spoken in North America. There are countless ethnic minorities here as well, each with their own languages that they speak, like Spanish, German, Korean, Chinese, etc. How would they go about adapting their languages to this ecology? I assume the same rules apply–analyzing the language and finding ways to adapt it to how animist languages function.

Just curious about what your thoughts are.


#74

You don’t really need to consider e-prime and b-english as representing completely distinct languages the way you would view English vs. Spanish etc.

In a bilingual situation, you need the second language because on of your groups of people does not understand the same language as your other group of people. You don’t find this problem, however, with e-prime. E-prime still works using English vocabulary (minus only a few words) and still the same grammar as b-english.

You can compare it to writing a paper without using the passive voice or writing a story only in the first person. You still use English, you just use it in a particular way.

Now, e-primitive takes things a bit further away from the English we grew up with. It would sound more like a translation from a native language. Think: the stereotypical “Indian” names like “Dances With Wolves” that use a phrase or even a sentence in place of a noun. Or think of the example Willem used before of turning a noun like “coyote” into a verb (meaning “to act like a coyote”) or an adjective (meaning “coyote-like”) or an adverb (meaning “in the manner of a coyote”). You could still communicate with someone who spoke b-english if you spoke e-primitive, but both parties would have to think a lot more and do some internal translation in order to try to grasp the entirety of what the other person said.

As for priming other languages. Why not? The English language did not fall prey to the “errors of identity” all by itself. And yes, the same rules apply–not just the removal of the verb “to be”, but thinking around and without the verb “to be”.


#75

Thank you for this clarification, WildeRix.

One more: By “b-english,” what are you talking about? I assume you are creating a term to determine the standard english without “E-prime” or “E-primitive,” with the verb “to be,” like the English we are having this discussion over. Is that correct?

I’m going to thank you now for this clarification so I don’t have to post a specific topic just thanking for my question again when you reply to this post. Should I not reply to anyone’s answer, however, it will mean that I am done asking questions about language, “E-primitive,” etc.


#76
One more: By "b-english," what are you talking about? I assume you are creating a term to determine the standard english without "E-prime" or "E-primitive," with the verb "to be," like the English we are having this discussion over. Is that correct?

you assumed correctly, dickens. and i’ll go ahead and welcome your thanks-in-advance in advance. :stuck_out_tongue:

...I am done asking questions about language, "E-primitive," etc.

i hope you still have more questions. i like questions. :slight_smile:


#77
i hope you still have more questions. i like questions. :)

Basically, what I am arguing here is that while we indeed have a lot to learn from animist languages, there is no doubt some value in our “b-english” since the bulk of the conversations are being discussed in that English. Obviously we all understand this language.

Consider facts.

It’s been mentioned that a lack of acknowleding “facts” is a part of “primitive” languages. (I’m going to use the word “primitive” from now on since it makes the most sense to me.) This quote is an example of that, from Willem:

[i]Abandoning the Prison of Factuality

Civilized peoples worship facts, reliable unchange-ables. A common defense of the concept of “fact” goes, “Well, 'it’s” a fact that the sun will rise tomorrow. That we know." Since I know many native american cultures that feel that in order for the sun to rise, they must call it up, and welcome it, and if they don’t, it may not rise that day, I know that it won’t surprise them when the Sun’s furnace goes cold, or if the earth itself gets pushed out of orbit by very real cosmic phenomena (asteroids, nomadic black holes, etc.). A civilized reaction to that would involve saying, “well, yes, our science predicts that, but you know “it’s” a fact that…”

Civilized people require “facts” to feel safe and to go about their day-to-day lives. To animist peoples, the ongoing change-ability and need to re-new and court the universe daily, monthly, yearly, gives life its meaning, gives life its center. They feel safe knowing the universe has moods just like us. That same notion horrifies civilized folks.[/i]

However, without the assumption of various “facts,” this discussion would not take place. Most people here consider it a “fact,” for example, that our present culture is unsustainable. Most people here consider it a “fact,” for example, that there’s something missing in standard English. We consider it a “fact” that agriculture is supporting our civilization, and our cities and towns, etc. We consider it a “fact” that electricity is required to run the computer that types our forums. If we did not think of these as facts, why would we be here? Obviously there is some value in acknowledging that there are “facts” versus “untruths” or “fiction,” even though we might debate what they are at times. For example, all of us must acknowledge that in order to survive, we must eat a certain amount of protein, vegetables, etc. That is a fact.

Another example: At Anthropik, for example, the authors are very keen on establishing various things as “facts” in order to bolster their arguments(inherent unsustainability of civ and agriculture, diminishing returns on complexity, interconnectedness of life on earth, etc.). I’m not going to argue whether their facts are true or not, but obviously it seems that by acknowledging these aspects of language, we have done so by stating things and arguing them as “facts.” Thus, it seems like acknowleding that is a valuable thing to have in a language. But of course, I would indeed agree that being blinded to a “factual” world is also not right as well. Some things do change, but others, obviously, do not. From that example, the sun does come up each morning, and I’ll bet even tribal cultures have their way of acknowleding that, even with ritual, etc. All of us acknowledge that some things are factual while others are not. Indeed, when Willem made those statements about animist languages, he stated them as facts!

Basically, I think that what can be learned from this thought experiment is there are values in understanding as many perceptions as possible–how we percieve the world, how “b-english” shapes our perception, andhow it is perceived by animists, etc., and not to be blinded by any type of perception.

I’m interested in your thoughts on it.


#78

That a paradigm destroys itself when pursued to its own ends does not speak to its value. Sure, the “thingness” that literate languages imply allows us to have this discussion, but without that “thingness,” this discussion would not be necessary. Frankly, I’d prefer to not need this discussion. It’s like being thankful for metals because otherwise you’d never have the pliers with which to pull the rusty nail out of your foot, but wouldn’t it be better to have never had the rusty nail in your foot at all?

What we offer at Anthropik is a condemnation of civilization in its own terms. That’s a pretty powerful thing, and one of the main reasons we have the audience we do. That doesn’t mean we place any greater value on the literate worldview, just that we recognize that to persuade someone who’s inside that view, you need to meet them where they’re at and speak to them in their own terms. We illustrate the ways in which civilized thought negates itself; that’s an invitation to leave it behind, not a reason to carry it forward.

No fact remains true forever, and that’s the value of E-Prime and E-Primitive. The sun won’t always rise in the morning; in a few billion years, the sun will expand and die. No more sun rising. Nothing exists that carries on with such permanence that it doesn’t eventually end. Ultimately, even time ends. That’s not to say that sometimes the world doesn’t act consistently, and animist languages acknowledge that, too. But our fact-oriented, objectified, literate language deadens our senses; their relationship-oriented, personalized, oral language enhances their senses. The very fact that their languages make it so difficult to state a fact unequivocally reminds them that even the most predictable, constant elements in life might one day change.


#79

[quote=“jason, post:78, topic:91”]That a paradigm destroys itself when pursued to its own ends does not speak to its value. Sure, the “thingness” that literate languages imply allows us to have this discussion, but without that “thingness,” this discussion would not be necessary. Frankly, I’d prefer to not need this discussion. It’s like being thankful for metals because otherwise you’d never have the pliers with which to pull the rusty nail out of your foot, but wouldn’t it be better to have never had the rusty nail in your foot at all?

What we offer at Anthropik is a condemnation of civilization in its own terms. That’s a pretty powerful thing, and one of the main reasons we have the audience we do. That doesn’t mean we place any greater value on the literate worldview, just that we recognize that to persuade someone who’s inside that view, you need to meet them where they’re at and speak to them in their own terms. We illustrate the ways in which civilized thought negates itself; that’s an invitation to leave it behind, not a reason to carry it forward.[/quote]

Again, Jason, I am not here to argue your ideas. Sorry I even used your example.

The point I was making, however, is that there are things that are “facts”–you defend them on your website. If we didn’t have any concept of that, how would you acknowledge those truths? I am not arguing the value of a paradigm–just the point that it was indeed valuable for you to use that way of speaking to argue your ideas!

No fact remains true forever, and that's the value of E-Prime and E-Primitive. The sun won't always rise in the morning; in a few billion years, the sun will expand and die. No more sun rising. Nothing exists that carries on with such permanence that it doesn't eventually end. Ultimately, even time ends. That's not to say that sometimes the world doesn't act consistently, and animist languages acknowledge that, too. But our fact-oriented, objectified, literate language deadens our senses; their relationship-oriented, personalized, oral language enhances their senses. The very fact that their languages make it so difficult to state a fact unequivocally reminds them that even the most predictable, constant elements in life might one day change.

Of course, the sun will expand and die. But we did not have to abandon understanding facts to acknowledge that. Even we acknowledge that facts change, especially, since they acknowledge a higher fact–that the sun’s energy is based on a chemical reaction that will someday change. Those are still facts.

But you have argued facts that you then argue will remain true forever. You condemn civilization and argue that it can never be sustainable–that seems to me like a fact that you can argue is forever and will not change. You argue that the limitations of agriculture and horticulture are inherent and will not change. You argue that complexity is subject to diminishing returns and will not change.

I assumed animist languages acknowledge these things about consistency as well as change–indeed, I was arguing the value of both approaches–the relationship approach and the relationship-oriented approach.

For example, in “Do you believe in magic?,” a post you have written, you argue the difference between animist magic and other forms of magic, like magic in terms of violating energy laws. That’s what I’m talking about.


#80

I never mentioned any of the ideas we’ve talked about on the site, so why would you be sorry? I’m talking directly about your argument. Anthropik illustrates the failure of the civilized mindset in its own terms, including the notion of “facts.” But to say that this justifies it is just like my example about pliers and rusty nails in your foot. Sure, without the objectification of our sensuous experience of the living world, we wouldn’t be able to talk about the “facts” that point to the contradictory and self-defeating notion of the “fact.” But then, we wouldn’t need to, either, and wouldn’t that be much, much better?

I suppose you could think of patterns of thought like roads, they lead you from one conclusion to the next as they build up. Follow the trail of “facts” long enough, and you find out that it doubles back on itself and what “the facts” show is that “the facts” are worthless. So after years of following the trail and immense effort, you find out that the whole exercise was pointless. You’re saying that facts have value because only then can we see that facts have no value. I’m saying it’s a pointless trail to travel down, and we’d have been better off if we never had, as illustrated by the “fact” that all those “facts” ever led to was round and round in circles.

I am not arguing the value of a paradigm--just the point that it was indeed valuable for you to use that way of speaking to argue your ideas!

But the only value in arguing those ideas was to defeat that paradigm. So the only value of the paradigm is that it allows for its own destruction? That’s not a value at all.