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Discover the many ways that General Semantics has been applied

How Has General Semantics Been Applied?

General semantics has been applied for the betterment and advancement of a number of different fields.  Here is a list of some noteworthy applications of general semantics on different projects.

D. David Bourland, Jr., Formulator of E-Prime

The Original Formulator of E-Prime, D. David Bourland, Jr. 

The New Standard American Bible in E-Prime

by David F. Maas

Dr. David F. Maas rendered the New Standard American Bible into E-Prime, a general semantics tool that involves writing in English without the use of be-verbs.

Background Information

This section provides some background on the general semantics technique of E-Prime (“writing without be-verbs”) as well as the New American Standard Bible as translated into E-Prime.

About E-Prime

“E-Prime” refers to a version of English that lacks any conjugation of the infinitive “to be.” Developed by D. David Bourland, Jr., E-Prime aims to address many problematic forms of English expression that lead to confusion of orders of abstracting, brought to light by the founder of general semantics Alfred Korzybski.

E-Prime primarily corrects instances of “the is of identity” and “the is of predication.” The is of identity usually equates a very specific member with a very general class (e.g., “Man is an animal”). The is of predication usually erroneously constructs an image that a property exists in its respective object, rather than more accurately exists as a construction in an observer’s “mind,” independent of the object (e.g., “The ball is red”).

By eradicating be-verbs from English and formulating sentences in different ways outside of their use, Bourland believed E-Prime could reduce confusion of orders of abstracting and improve overall sanity for writers, speakers, and their audiences. E-Prime received much attention after its introduction and many writers and speakers have practiced it. The subject of E-Prime received critical attention in three volumes of essays published by the International Society for General Semantics (now the Institute of General Semantics): To Be or Not: An E-Prime Anthology (currently out of print), More E-Prime: To Be or Not II, and E-Prime III!: A Third Anthology.

About the NASB in E-Prime

Dr. David F. Maas began composing the New American Standard Bible in E-Prime in February 2009 and published the version below on the Institute of General Semantics website in July 2010.

As for the motivations behind an E-Priming of the NASB, Dr. Maas wrote “Concerning an E-Prime Translation of the Bible,” published in ETC: A Review of General Semantics, Winter 1995-1996 (52:4).

The NASB in E-Prime

Click on each part to read the New American Standard Bible in E-Prime.


Permission to Quote the NASB on the Internet

This Permission to Quote is granted, contingent on the conditions herein, by The Lockman Foundation, a California non-profit corporation, having its principal place of business in La Habra, California, hereinafter called “LOCKMAN,” to the Institute of General Semantics in Ft. Worth, TX, hereinafter called “REQUESTER.”

English language editions of the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE Update, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 are hereinafter referred to as “THE LICENSED WORKS.”

LOCKMAN grants the non-exclusive right to REQUESTER to re-distribute THE LICENSED WORKS in “E-Prime” form as produced and provided by David Maas through the Internet in electronic form on the website, Provided that all copies will be completely displayed and distributed to all users for free.

LOCKMAN grants the non-exclusive right to use the trademarks “NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE,” “NEW AMERICAN STANDARD,” “NASB,” and “NAS” in connection with the distribution of THE LICENSED WORKS and to associate said trademarks only with The Lockman Foundation and THE LICENSED WORKS.

A link to LOCKMAN’s web site home page (, this copyright notice, and other such notices as LOCKMAN may from time to time designate, must be placed in a conspicuous place on the website and included in each file containing the NASB along with an explanation of the E-Prime modifications to the text:

NASB Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

This Permission to Quote may not be sub-licensed, assigned or transferred voluntarily, by operation of law, by merger or other corporate proceedings, or otherwise, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of LOCKMAN.

This Permission to Quote shall be deemed to have been made in La Habra, California, and shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California. Any litigation arising out of or related to this Permission or the subject matter thereof shall be litigated in the state or federal courts having jurisdiction in Orange County, California. REQUESTER waives any objections it may have to such forum, whether based on venue, jurisdiction over the person, forum non conveniens, or otherwise.

This Permission to Quote shall be deemed to be in effect on July 29, 2010, and shall continue in effect until LOCKMAN gives thirty (30) days notice of termination. This Permission to Quote shall automatically terminate if the conditions herein are not being met or if THE LICENSED WORKS are not available to the public on the REQUESTER’S web site for a period of more than six (6) months after its initial release.


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