Subject: E-prime
From: Michele Berkes 615-576-2352 <BERKESM -at- A1 -dot- OSTI -dot- GOV>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 1994 10:24:00 -0400

I attended an interesting workshop on E-Prime at the 16th Annual
Practical Conference on Communication (1992, East Tennessee Chapter of
STC) by Jack Anderson and Jeff Rybak of Intergraph. It was (I thought)
my first experience with E-Prime. I found the exercises and discussion
quite thought provoking.

As it turns out, I had been practicing something like E-Prime for one of
my previous employers. We were editing an elementary level science
textbook. One of the guidelines given to the editors on the project was
that forms of "to be" would be allowed only as a desperate last resort.
The other editors and I thought it sounded like a good idea but were
skeptical that it was possible. How do you define terms without "is"?
(An earthquake is. . . . Weather is. . . .) We really had to work at it
and occasionally we did resort to "to be." By and large, however, we
stuck to the guidelines and found ways to write around "to be". We were
amazed at how much crisper and more engaging the prose seemed. Forgive
me for not being able to remember specific examples--it has been a long
time and a lot of words have passed before my eyes and through my brain
since then.

Just a short testimonial of sorts. We never called it E-Prime, but
whatever it was, it worked.

berkesm -at- a1 -dot- osti -dot- gov

p.s. Unfortunately, when that project ended and no one was counting the
occurrences of "to be" in our work and deadlines loomed, many of us went
back to our comfortable old ways. Alas.

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