ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

This quarterly journal provides peer-reviewed articles on topics relating to general semantics.

Articles from Vol. 50, No. 3, Fall

An Auto-Interview on the Need for E-Prime
Q. THIS STRIKES ME as a bit of a conceit. Why do you insist on interviewing yourself -- do you fear, from other interviewers, embarrassing questions, questions revealing lack of knowledge, unclear thinking or other symptoms of incompetence to discuss...
Comments on a Public Speaking Text in E-Prime
AFTER SOME ENCOURAGEMENT from a publisher, I wrote a public speaking textbook titled Plain Public Speaking. I tried to write the book as a concise text containing simple directions on how to make speeches -- a manual that any college freshman could...
Defining the Abortion Debate
MY FRIEND LEXI once said that when she looks at newborn babies she sees the "wisdom of the ages" in their eyes. I did not see this "wisdom" then and, now that I have my own little girl, I still don't. But I do understand why Lexi and I are not communicating....
Do Away with "To Be" - There, Pupils, Lies the Answer
DOES THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE really need the verb to be or does its use involve more liabilities than benefits? For the past several hundred years, philosophers, scholars, and English teachers have warned against the abuse of the verb (basically am,...
E-Prime and E-Plus
E-PRIME AROSE as a bold stratagem, a straightforward attack on a pervasive problem of English -- the way the ubiquitous verb "to be" tempts us into identities. Korzybski tells us we shoud avoid identities at 'all' costs, and E-Prime accomplishes that...
E-Prime, E-Choice, E-Chosen
E-PRIME OR E-CHOICE "is" a choice. I could have written "appears as a choice" but that would have detracted from my point. A point isomorphic with Emory Menefee's argument ("E-Prime or E-Choice," ETC., Summer 1991) that not all identificational verbs...
Has Metaphor Collapsed?
IT ALL STARTED when I was reading America, by Jean Baudrillard. The French philosopher had been traveling through the United States, waxing poetic on his favorite subjects of media, simulations, and the automobile and its culture which he claims he...
Is-Y White Hats and Is-Y Black Hats
IN RECENT ISSUES OF ETC., we've been treated to arguments for E-Prime and to arguments for E-Choice. In presenting my two-cents worth, I shall abandon the faintly carnivorous metaphor and switch into the hollywood Western mode: good guys wear white...
Media and Culture
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN a new technology is introduced into a culture? According to such writers as Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, and others, graphic, filmic, and electornic media create different kinds of communications environments....
One Grunt or Two?
MY NAME IS ALFRED. This sentence, besides giving my name, demonstrates what we used to call an "is of identity" construction, which early believers in E' thought was the most deadly use of the verb "to be." You who someday read these words will most...
Staying out of Hog Water: Tips for Writers
UNLESS MUDDIED UP, English can be a lovely and complex language, capable of expressing almost any nuance of thought or emotion. Perhaps becauseh it allows such precision of expression, it has overtaken French as the language of international discourse....
Tagging: Changing Visual Patterns and the Rhetorical Implications of a New Form of Graffiti
"...words of the prophets...written on the subway walls." ACCORDING TO Michel Foucault, written language pictures mental images, thus capturing the otherwise fleeting experience known as spoken language. In other words, written language depicts...
Talking to the Wall
IT WOULD SEEM that certain upholders of the faith have deemed it necessary to protect us from the insidious influence of a new trend which threat ens to undermine the very core of civilized life. I refer, of course, to that heinous, noxious, baneful,...
The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax
EVEN THOUGH I fall outside its usual academic target-audience, I said yes to Lingua Franca's 1990 subscription offer, because it got to me personally. The offer featured an article, "The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax," purporting to debunk a myth regarding...
The Mighty Pen
IT PROBABLY CAME FROM the school bookstore. Except for some teeth marks around the top, it exhibited few distinguishing characteristics. I held my blue ball point pen aloft and asked my class. "What do you call this thing?" Having assimilated the...
The Prime Problem with General Semantics
THE SUMMER 1992 issue of ETC., contains my article, "The Top Ten Arguments Against E-Prime."(1) David Bourland criticized the article (and other essays leery of the E-Prime movement) in that sme issue.(2) This essay constitutes my response. Just...
Too Far?
1. Introduction IN THE LIST of my peak intellectual life experiences I would surely have to include the following three: (i) During Korzybski's last summer seminar (August, 1949), at Great Barington, Mass., and at this last winter seminar (Christmas,...
Using General Semantics Principles in the Basic News Reporting Classroom
BASIC NEWS REPORTING CLASSES offer us an excellent opportunity to alert future journalists to important aspects of human perception such as those studied in the field of general semantics. Reporting required identifying and discovering enormously...