AC Capehart/Accidental E-Prime

Created Mon, 19 Sep 2005 04:25:46 +0000 Modified Thu, 14 Oct 2021 14:31:47 +0000
483 Words

A while back, I took my car into the dealer for service. Since Carolyn gave her car back to her parents, we have just the one vehicle. I dropped her off at work, then dropped the car off at the dealer. I had to use the courtesy shuttle to get back home. I told the driver where I lived, and off we went. Soon, he turned off of the route that I expected him to take. I told him of my newness to town (getting less true, but I still feel like an Altoona outsider), and asked about the route.

While I doubted that this truck driver turned auto delivery-person turned shuttle driver actually ever read any Alfred Korzybski or Robert Anton Wilson, I felt pleasure to hear his use of E-Prime He told me, for example, “This here’s what they call 20th Avenue.” I didn’t mention to him my pleasure at his words, but his description seemed accurate to me. There is nothing about the strip of asphalt that is 20th Avenue. Instead, 20th Avenue is a name that we (or the city planner, or someone) assigned to that stip of asphalt in order to make referring to it, and the residences along it, easier.

I make a half-hearted effort to use E-Prime in my speech and writing, because I think doing so helps me articulate myself more clearly and accurately. But, because I’m not well practiced at it, I don’t try particularly hard. I also wonder about the E-Prime take on adjectives. When, for example, I say “I make a half-hearted effort”, it appears to me to be equivalent to saying, “My effort to use E-Prime is half-hearted.” And, I don’t know about you, but for me, avoiding adjectives is hard! 🙂

Note: Even as short as this post is, I needed revisions in order to attempt to e-prime-ify it. Among other things, I changed “I was pleased” to “I felt pleasure“. See if you can find the places in this post that still don’t adhere to e-prime even after my revisions. As a further exercise, re-write “Instead, 20th Avenue is a name that someone assigned to that stip of asphalt in order to make referring to it easier_.” into E-Prime. As a final exercise, email your response to me so that I can clean up this damn post!_