General Semantics Advanced Thinking
A System-Discipline Concerned with the Sanity of the Race & the Individual

by Milton Dawes

Please don’t take this too seriously – at least not all of it. This all started – (correction: who knows when anything started?) – let’s say, some of this started when a few of my general semantics friends and colleagues started clowning around after a busy day of meetings. Bruce Kodish, co-author of Drive Yourself Sane!, responded with “Egad” to something someone said. We played around with this for a while in the spirit of D. David Bourland’s “E-Prime” (English without any form of the verb “to be.” See ETC. vol. 47 number 4, Winter 1990-91).

This relaxing and enjoyable fooling around must have primed me up. On my drive back to Montreal (I was in Closter, New Jersey at the time) I found myself thinking about and generalizing on the approach of E-Prime, and formulating other possible versions of English.

What follows, I must remind you, comes with a great deal of admiration and respect for David’s creative contribution to Korzybskian general semantics. In principle, I do not agree with the complete abandonment of “all” forms of “to be” from the English language. I prefer Allen Walker Read’s EMA (English Minus Absolutisms). (See ETC., vol. 42 number 1, 1985.) Still, as an exercise in self-reflexiveness, it can contribute a great deal to increasing our awareness of our language habits and the effects they have on ways we treat ourselves and others.

When we practice thinking, speaking, and writing in E-Prime, we train ourselves toward a way of living that integrates greater appreciation of our world of changes, processes, inter-relationships, differences, similarities, and much more. Probably most importantly, we train ourselves toward becoming more the masters of words, and less their slaves. And we train ourselves to appreciate the vast differences between what we say, hear, speak, write, read, etc., and what these expressions represent.

Attending to our language habits through practicing E-Prime, together with other training in Korzybskian general semantics, can help us reduce stress in our relationships, and minimize unnecessary conflicts and disagreements. Many conflicts and disagreements arise when individuals, groups, nations, in their speaking and writings, make claims they would find more difficult to make without their use of forms of “to be.” They make claims, for instance, to: know how someone or something is; how things are; they say what this means is, or what someone means is; the fact of the matter is; the important thing is; what is at issue here; the reason for this is; and so on.

Thinking, speaking, and writing in E-Prime, together with other training in general semantics, can help us experience, think-feel, and understand things in ways different from our usual ways. It can help us change our attitudes and approaches when we find ourselves stuck with a particular problem or situation; and much much more. If you ever happen to feel challenged to acquire skills in this form of English, you may find this one of your most daunting, but one of your most rewarding struggles. And you may in the process develop a healthful respect for E-Prime and yourself.

I now present you my humble contribution to the discipline of psycho-linguistics. I encourage you to exercise your creative talents and make up your own definitions. (See E-Coli further on).

  • E-Prime… English without any form of the verb “to be.” Used mainly by general semantics practitioners to reduce foolishness in their thinking, feeling, speaking, and relating.
  • E-Flat … English spoken without inflections; monotonic English. A kind you may not listen to despite the possible significance of the message. If you are not careful, you may find yourself saying, “This person is boring.” Resist that.
  • E-Sharp … English full of cutting remarks, biting comments, and pointed statements. These could hurt you if you forget that “the word is not the thing.”
  • E-Minor … English spoken by little children.
  • E-Major … English that could get you into major trouble. Surgeon Generals should avoid this brand of English at all costs when talking about sexual things.
  • E-Clipse … English spoken by individuals you may sometimes label as “overbearing”. Individuals who you think overshadow you in discussions and conversations. Also, English spoken in a kind of, that is to say, well you know what I mean, round about way.
  • E-Lipse … English used by individuals who have difficulties expressing themselves, e-specially when they encounter E-Clipsers.
  • E-T … English used by UFO abductees and aliens.
  • E-Rupt … A very special kind of English. We resort to this mainly when we feel angry. E-Clipsers could bring this on.
  • E-Z … English used by individuals who don’t know where to start.
  • E-Lapse … English used by individuals who forget where they put things.
  • E-Vict … The special English of landlords.
  • E-Ject … The kind of English you use in an effort to get out of an awkward situation. Indulgence in E-Major could make this necessary.
  • E-Volve … English used by those who claim to have found enlightenment and bliss.
  • E-Rase … English you use when you wished you had not said what you did. E-Major and E-Rupt could awaken this skill.
  • E-Fect … English you use to show that you recognize that behavior has consequences and actions that result in reactions, and that in the self-reflexive world in which we live, our environment will sooner or later do back to us what we do to it.
  • E-Gad … English used mainly when you are caught by surprise. This often goes hand in hand (or should I say foot in mouth?) with E-Rupt.
  • E-Coli … ??? See note at the end.
  • E-Go … English used mainly by people who have taken assertiveness training. And people you may know who find ways to take anything you say as a personal criticism. With the latter you may need lots of skills in E-Rase and E-Ject.
  • E-Late … English you use in making excuses for not showing up on time.
  • E-Vade … English used by people who act as if they did not hear your question. So they go on and on, and on, answering many questions you didn’t ask. You can hear lots of E-Vade if you listen to politicians in an interview.
  • E-Lope … English used mainly by individuals who, before you have finished, (actually, after your first two or three words) take off with little concern as to whether or not you care to accompany them. E-Clipsers form a big proportion of this set.
  • E-Merge … English used by many individuals who have had successful therapeutic interventions. Some individuals who have taken a general semantics seminar-workshop also use this form.
  • E-Mote … English you use to express your feelings. Poets use E-Mote a great deal.
  • E-Lude … English some people claim you find in books they call dirty. People who make what some call obscene phone calls also use E-Lude. E- Lude also comes to mind when confronted with E-Clipsers and E-Vaders.
  • E-Quate … English used with the “is” of identity, and the “is” of predication. (e.g., This is that. Abortion is murder.) Individuals who see and accept no differences between what they think, believe, say, and what goes on in the other world outside their heads, use this form of English a lot. E- Quaters often do not realize that there are such things as maps and territories, and that a map is not the territory it is a map of.
  • E-Rode … English used to describe the possible E-fects E-Clipsers and E-Lopers could have on one’s self-esteem.
  • E-Thos … English used mainly by social scientists and anthropologists.
  • E-Ros … English used by those in love.
  • E-Vent … English used a great deal by physicists. Also English one feels like using out of frustration with E-Clipsers and E-Vaders.
  • E-Nough … English without any word forms except maybe “off” and “up.” A compression of E-Sharp, E-Vent, E-Mote, and E-Rupt. “Shut up” and “Quiet” serve as good examples of E-Nough. I bet you can think of many situations where you had to restrain yourself from using this form of English.
  • So there you have it. Examples of many forms of English. See how often you can catch yourself using these forms of English, especially E-Quate. You may find that paying attention to this particular form of English can make a difference in your living. (By the way, when I mention E-Clipsers and E- Vaders, etc. – these labels refer only to times when individuals use those forms of English.)

    You are all invited to contribute your E-Coli definitions, or other creations for Chanticleer readers and others

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