Diagramming Won’t Help This Situation by Kevin Brown

Grammatical rules have always baffled

me, leaving me wondering whether my

life is transitive or intransitive, if I am the

subject or object of my life, and no one

has been able to provide words to describe

my actions, even if they do end in –ly.

But now the problem seems to be with

pronouns: I am unwilling to be him

and you are unable to be her, so we

will never be them~the ones talking

about what they need from the grocery

store because the Rogers are coming for

dinner tonight; the couple saving for a

vacation, perhaps a cruise to Alaska or a

museum tour of Europe; the two who meet

with a financial advisor to plan their children's

college fund while still managing to set enough

aside for their retirement~and so we will

continue to be nothing more than sentence

fragments, perfectly fine for effect,

but forever looking for the missing

part of speech we can never seem to find.

(The Writer’s Almanac)

‘To Be’ or Not ?

Alfred Korzybski, Polish philosopher and scien...

Explore, if you will, the world of E-Prime. Arising from the thinking of Alfred Korzybski and the International Society for General Semantics which he founded, E-Prime consists of the subset of the English language left after expunging it of the use of the verb ‘to be’ in its two major functions of connoting identity (“I am a weblogger”) and predication (“I am nice”). Proponents feel that these uses of ‘to be’ cause major confusion of thought and consequent social problems. To start with, consider how the use of the same verb for identity and predication readily obscures the distinction between opinion and fact. Moreover, it readily lends itself to stereotypy and inflexibility.

This paper claims that using “E-Prime in Negotiation and Therapy” can challenge dogmatic viewpoints, clarify confusion, and defuse conflict in daily life. I don’t conduct myself as a strong proponent of E-Prime in my life; awkward circumlocutory constructions arise whenever I try to write in that way. But the difficulty in using it perhaps speaks to how early in our lives the associated thought patterns were ingrained. Language doesn’t determine what we can and can’t think, but it does readily shape what can be thought with ease as opposed to with difficulty, IMHO. Does the challenge involved in thinking ‘outside this box’ perhaps indicate the importance of doing so? The links above have plenty of further links if you want to explore your identifications and predications more thoroughly.