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Letter to D. David Bourland, Jr.

The Special Issue of ETC. on E-Prime [ETC., Summer 1992] has generated much correspondence that I have seen, and I hate to think of how much that I have not seen. After carefully studying the published articles and these letters I would conclude that the Special Issue has taken a confusion level that was already too high and raised it even more. I would assume that most of the contributors to this issue were well acquainted with your book To Be or Not. Even in the extreme case that E-Prime turns out to be a total farce, I should think that a serious investigation of it would be very educational and contribute to time binding. This is the Special Issue and the reactions have not done. There are many areas here in need of clarification. I have a list of specific matters relating to E-Prime on which I would like to get your comments. Such comments should at least provide a basis for the investigation I would like to see.

I E-Prime supposedly provides its users with certain psycho-social benefits. Many people in the world speak languages that do not have forms of the verb "to be" to be eliminated. Do you think individual speakers of these non-identifying languages enjoy the benefits of E-Prime, and if not, why not?

II You have said that we cannot expect E-Prime to solve all of our semantic problems, but it was now been on the academic scene for over 25 years. I would like from you three short lists; I will settle for, say, three entries in each category. (1) Problems that have been solved by the use of E-Prime. (2) Problems that could be solved by the use of E-Prime. (3) Problems that cannot be solved by means of E-Prime. Let us grant that people who learn to write in E-Prime derive great pleasure from such a difficult achievement. However, I would not accept that as an example of an E-Prime solved problem.

III Over the years I have encountered many arguments about the meaning of the term "identity." If you think this term has only one, or a few, possible meaning(s) I would like your interpretations. If you think some of the employed meanings are invalid I would like your explanation. If you think more than one of the possible meanings are valid I would like to know how you tell which one the user intended in some particular case. By valid I do not mean semantically correct, but commonly understood, say in a dictionary sense. Here you may draw your examples from this letter.

IV As stated above many people/societies employ languages that do not contain forms of the verb "to be." However, the greatest philosophic, scientific, cultural, economic, and artistic achievements of the human race have been made by people seeking languages heavily dependent on is's. (I will not make any claims for the spiritual accomplishments of the Western world.) If the use of is's is so detrimental, could you please explain these cultural/scientific imbalances?

v For purposes of discussion, let us assume that E-Prime confers significant advantages on its users. In this cas I am concerned with the possibility that people making this assumption will identify general semantics with E-Prime. I do not think that you personally hold this position, but I would like you to describe some of the advantages you think could be derived from general semantics as distinguished from E-Prime.
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Title Annotation:response to articles in ETC, Special issue, Summer 1992
Author:Stade, Charles
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Sep 22, 1993
Previous Article:Semantics.
Next Article:Too far?

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D. DAVID BOURLAND, JR. 1928-2000.

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