E-Prime

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E-Prime (short for English-Prime, sometimes spelled E′) is a form of the English language in which the verb to be does not appear in any of its forms. E-Prime therefore does not use the words "be", "is", "am", "are", "was", "were", "been" and "being". Neither does it use their contractions: "'s", "'m", and "'re".

Some people use E-Prime as a mental discipline to filter speech and translate the speech of others.[1] For example, the sentence "the movie was good" would correspond to the E-Prime sentences "I liked the movie" or "the movie made me laugh".

Contents

History

D. David Bourland, Jr. (1928–2000) proposed E-Prime as an addition to Alfred Korzybski's General Semantics some years after Korzybski's death in 1950. Bourland, who had studied under Korzybski, coined the term in a 1965 essay entitled A Linguistic Note: Writing in E-Prime (originally published in the General Semantics Bulletin). The essay quickly generated controversy within the General Semantics field, partly because practitioners of General Semantics sometimes saw Bourland as attacking the verb 'to be' as such, and not just certain usages.

Bourland collected and published three volumes of essays in support of his innovation. The first (1991), co-edited by Paul Dennithorne Johnston bore the title: To Be or Not: An E-Prime Anthology [2] For the second, More E-Prime: To Be or Not II: 1994, Concord, California: International Society for General Semantics, he added a third editor, Jeremy Klein.

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