Today I learned about a modified form of English called E-Prime, which disallows the usage of “to be” verbs. According to some scholars, E-Prime helps to “clarify thinking and strengthen writing” by ensuring that each sentence has a clear subject and avoiding multiple possible meanings which might result from the use of “to be” forms.
I find writing in E-Prime quite challenging, especially since I use passive sentences a lot. For example, you can see my conversion of the Rifleman’s Creed below.
This rifle belongs to me. Many look like it, but I own this one.
I consider my rifle my best friend. It equals my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
My rifle, without me, becomes useless. Without my rifle, I become useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who tries to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will…
My rifle and myself know that the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, or the smoke we make do not count in this war. We know that the hits count. We will hit…
My rifle is human, even as I, because it equals my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I keep myself clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…
Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself shall defend my company. We shall master our enemy. We shall become the saviors of my life.
So it goes, until America gains victory and the enemy perishes, and peace remains!
Obviously it took away some of the poetic qualities of the creed.