To Be or Not: An E-Prime Anthology, the original compendium of essays edited by D. David Bourland, Jr., and Paul Dennithorne Johnston on the form of English without “be verbs,” is now available as a PDF ebook for download from the IGS Store.
About the Book
Examine the verbs of the “to be” family and you find a startling underlying assumption. The words be, been, is, was, am, were, etc., have their logical basis in the idea that things stay the same. The notion of identity — a thing’s absolute sameness with a similar thing or with itself over time — has confused and corrupted thinking since the days of Aristotle.
Life means change: growth, learning, metamorphosis, decay. Even the apparently changless earth changes, as moving plates push up mountains or split continents apart. Today we often experience rapid social and technological change. Yet our daily language has at its foundation the assumption that things don’t change, an assumption that helps us focus and therefore “understand,” but also leads us astray when we act as if things haven’t changed, and they have. How can we deal with this “two-edged sword” that both helps and hinders us in our daily lives?
E-Prime, a variant of English that eliminates the verbs of the “to be” family, makes us aware of the problem, and offers one solution.
Some of the benefits: lively, concise writing and speaking; clearer, more critical thinking; better communication, evaluation and decision-making.