Thursday, January 3, 2008

Some E-Answers.

Obsessing as I do with my current obsession (what else would one obsess over but obsessions?), I have found some answers to my concerns about "small talk" & idiomatic expressions in E-Prime. From a great & thorough E-Prime introduction:

. . . .I (E.K.) sometimes resort to "pidgin E Prime" in order to avoid statements which. . . may sound slightly awkward. For example, if someone asks me "Who are you?", instead of replying "My friends call me Ed", I might simply say "Ed". . . . Instead of asking "How do you label yourself?" you might simply substitute a general request for more personal information as in the imperative, "Tell me about yourself". Specific situations allow other E-Prime variations such as: "Your name, please?", (great for hotel desk clerks or telephone operators), "Would you please introduce yourself? I don't believe we've met before". (good for formal social occasions), "What name do you go by these days?" (great with disciples of Swamis who have changed their name, or bank robbers with a number of aliases), or even (for singles situations) "If I want to find your number in the telephone directory, what name should I look under?"

. . . Instead of asking "How are you?", I might ask "How do you feel?", or "How has life treated you lately?" or even a West Coast alternative such as "How goes it?". On the telephone, instead of asking "Is Julie there?" I'd probably ask "May I speak with Julie?". Rather than asking "Where is X?" I might ask "Where can I find X?" or more elegantly, "Would you please direct me to X?" In my experience, even colloquial expressions have socially acceptable E-Prime equivalents, although it might take a fair amount of time and effort on your part to find one in any given situation.

On the other hand in the early days of trying to speak in E-Prime, I (D.B.), rationalized my use of polite formula "to be" dependent phrases in order to avoid the risk of sounding like a nut. Now I've decided to stick to E-Prime all the time, even if I do occasionally sound a trifle odd. Like my co-author, I also have found "pidgin E-Prime" useful during the transition period. Of course, we recognize that pidgin E-Prime can sound less than elegant, and condone its use only when necessary during the earliest phase. . . .

No comments: