RE: [unrev-II] Speaking & Thinking with E-Prime

From: Gil Regev (
Date: Tue Oct 23 2001 - 08:50:07 PDT

  • Next message: Jack Park: "RE: [unrev-II] Nailing Jello To The Wall"

    Another nice quote from Korzybski is:

    There is a tremendous difference between 'thinking' in verbal terms, and
    'contemplating', inwardly silent, on non-verbal levels, and then searching
    for the proper structure of language to fit the supposedly discovered
    structure of the silent processes that modern science tries to find. If we
    'think' verbally, we act as biased observers and project onto the silent
    levels the structure of the language we use, and so remain in our rut of old
    orientations, making keen, unbiased, observations and creative work
    well-nigh impossible. In contrast, when we 'think' without words, or in
    pictures (which involve structure and therefore relations), we may discover
    new aspects and relations on silent levels, and so may produce important
    theoretical results in the general search for a similarity of structure
    between the two levels, silent and verbal. Practically all important
    advances are made that way.

    It is quoted in Thierry Bardini's book about Doug (p. 33) and at the
    following address: (Alfred Korzybski,

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Jack Park []
      Sent: mardi, 23. octobre 2001 17:20
      Subject: [unrev-II] Speaking & Thinking with E-Prime

      From the creators of the statement "The Map is not the Territory"

      Consider this excerpt:
      "In essence, E-Prime consists of a more descriptive and extensionally
      oriented derivative of English, that automatically tends to bring the user
      back to the level of first person experience. For example, if you saw a
      man, reeking of whisky, stagger down the street and then collapse, you
      might think (in ordinary English) "He is drunk." In E-Prime one would
      instead "He acts drunk," or "He looks drunk," both of which statements
      obviously coming closer to an accurate description of the actual
      experience, and involving fewer covert assumptions than the English
      original. After all, one might have encountered an actor (practicing the
      part of a drunken man), a man who had spilled alcohol on himself
      a seizure of some kind, etc., etc. The E-Prime statement still leaves
      possibilities open, whereas the "is" statement does not. Although E-Prime
      usually reduces hidden assumptions, it does not exclude them (for example,
      you may have seen a woman, or a robot, or an alien, etc. that looked like
      man and acted drunk). E-Prime fosters a worldview in which the user
      perceives situations as changeable rather than static, and where verbal
      formulations derived from experience indicate possibilities rather than
      certainties. Subjectively, I have found my creativity greatly enhanced, as
      many problems that "are unsolvable" in ordinary English only "seem
      unsolvable" in E-Prime! This shift in attitude can make a great
      Thus, removing the "to be" verb from English results in a language of a
      more phenomenological character, in that this change automatically causes
      reduction of the number of assumptions in even simple sentences.
      made in E-Prime almost always mirror first person experience far more
      adequately than the "is" statements they replace. E-Prime also greatly
      encourages one to use the active voice ("Smith-1 did it") rather than the
      often misleading and information-poor passive voice ("it was done"). Of
      course, as Bourland pointed out, one can continue the modification of
      E-Prime even further, adding for example the alterations and
      non-aristotelian tools that Korzybski recommended (dating, indexing,
      bringing one to E-Prime-k. My own version of E-Prime (E-Prime-p) aims at a
      phenomenological ideal, of ever more adequately representing the territory
      of my experience while ever more clearly communicating with others."

      I pose this excerpt, in some sense, as a follow up to my earlier posts on
      Loglan, a language for speaking and thinking with logic.

      I also pose this excerpt since I think it is, an some other sense, related
      to the evolution of a Collaborative Literacy, as is being developed by
      Conklin and his colleagues.

      Robert Rosen took Aristotle to his limits in trying to formulate a means
      modeling complex systems. The folks are speaking in
      non-aristotelian terms, and, largely, for the same purposes. Frankly, I'm
      having some problems getting my brain around the differences in
      approach. Perhaps, somewhere 'out there', we might have an opportunity to
      discuss this particular line of reasoning. That, because, I think, if we
      don't find a way to articulate what we think in terms that others will be
      able to unambiguously understand what we are saying, then (brace
      yourselves), all this OHS/DKR stuff will be for nought (or words to that


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    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Tue Oct 23 2001 - 08:37:58 PDT