Solar Ricardo

Solar Ricardo

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Let's Celebrate National E-Prime Week!



I hereby declare the fourth week in November... NATIONAL E-PRIME WEEK!
HIP-HIP...!!...I said...HIP-HIP...hoo-ray.....

Okay, so maybe I'm alone in this endeavor, but I think that the fourth week in November is the perfect time to do a little annual semantic experiment. Hear me out! You may actually agree with this. But first, I know you may wonder: “What the FUCK is E-Prime?”
Alfred Korzybski. One cool cat.
E-Prime emerged from the study of General Semantics in the early 1960s. Alfred Korzybski, the “Father of General Semantics” found that the word “is,” and all of the other derivatives of “to be,” suffer from structural problems and lack validity. For instance, the statement “this song is horrible” can be completely subjective. Even the statement “The sky is blue” may not necessarily be accurate.

David Bourland, a student of Korzybski, suggested that a more accurate method of communication might completely eliminate be, am, is, are, was, were, been and being. Bourland pointed out that by using this method, which he called “E-Prime” or “English Prime,” language can become less dogmatic. “This song is terrible” becomes “I don't like this song” and “the sky is blue” becomes “the sky looks blue to me,” therefore, inviting discussion rather than conflict.

So, why do I think that we need to celebrate this obscure academic exercise each year during the fourth week of November? THANKSGIVING, yo! Because, this week, due to some societally enforced ritual, many of us find ourselves occupying the same space for an extended period of time with other spawn of our hereditary genetic pool, some of whom may have very different outlooks on life than we do. Let's face it, “IS” can be a semantic chip on our shoulder, one that invites alcohol-addled ancestors, cro-magnon cousins and other kooky kin to knock it off. What better time to practice a little non-confrontational thought experiment?
 
Of course, even using E-Prime can't bail you out of every situation. Changing “All Republicans are idiots” to “ All Republicans appear to me as idiots” probably isn't going to save you. Sometimes, you just need to know when to SHUT THE FUCK UP. But on the other hand, saying “I like my Subaru” instead of “Subarus are better than Chevys” might just be enough to avoid a shoving match with your Busch Light fueled brother-in-law. Although, he will probably still think that "you is a fag!" After all, Troglodytes don't generally use E-Prime.