The philosopher Leibnitz (1646-1716) is ordinarily regarded as the father of the idea of an I. L., although Descartes, in a private letter written in 1629, outlined with remarkable lucidity the principles upon which such a language might be founded. Although the problem of an I. L. attracted the attention of Leibnitz throughout his whole life, his service chiefly consisted in enunciating the value and necessity of such a language, rather than in any fruitful attempts at its solution.

Attempts at international languages are usually considered as falling into the groups: (1) a priori systems, such as that of Dalgano, Wilkins, Ro; (2) a posteriori systems, such as Ido, Esp., Idiom-Neutral; (3) systems based on a mixture of the a priori and a posteriori principles, such as Volapuk. The 150 or more projects that appeared prior to the appearance of Volapuk may be characterized as belonging to the a priori (or perhaps better termed "pasigraphic") period. The reasons for rejecting a priori systems have already been sufficiently considered.

It may be said that only three systems have been worked out in details and attracted any considerable following: Volapuk, Esperanto, Ido. The other a posteriori attempts, inclusive of the later Latin projects are lacking in detailed work especially as regards the vocabulary, practical application and followers.




Volapuk, though it ended in failure in 1889, cannot be said to have "perished" any more than it would be proper so to speak of Watt's steam engine -- it was altered and bettered, Volapuk was not a continued success chiefly because of its arbitrary choice of roots, arbitrary formation of words, arbitrary grammar. Another obstacle was the popish attitude of its founder, Bishop Schleyer, who regarded all attempts at improvement as a grave personal offense. It fought a good fight against Esperanto but had to fail as Esp. was more efficient. One of the cleverest bits of propaganda put out by the Idists is a translation of an article written by Dr. Zamenhof against Volapuk wherein by the simple substitution of the words Esp. for Volapuk and Ido for Esp., it is shown that the Volapukists were urging the same reasons against Esp. that to-day the Espists are urging against Ido. The antagonism of Espists to Ido is simply a case of "human nature" repeating itself.

The great merit of Volapuk was that it practically demonstrated the fact that it was possible to construct an I. L. through which the peoples of the different language groups could make themselves understood, especially by writing. Its greatest failure was in its unfitness for oral communication, which defect Esp. remedied. Although Volapuk was but the child of its time and is now but a phase in the development of an efficient type of I. L., it is undoubtedly of great value as an instructive linguistic experiment. Among its merits may be mentioned: (1) An alphabet which contained letters easily pronounceable; no mute letters; all letters having the same sounds. (2) One sole and regular declension and conjugation (though the declension was much too complicated), (3) Adjectives, adverbs, verbs, etc. derived from one root. (4) Natural gender, (5) Simple syntax, (6) No exceptions in grammar. Volapuk adopted a majority of its roots from the English but so mutilated them as to make them practicably unrecognizable. This was in part due to an effort to adopt an alphabet which would be easily pronounceable by all peoples, Europeans and otherwise. This lead to the omission of so many common letters and to their substitution by others as to greatly change the spelling of the English words. Schleyer had in mind an easy language for the whole world, not merely one founded on the basis of the principal European languages and, as a consequence of attempting the impossible, he constructed a language harder than it need have been for Europeans.




Thanks to the active propaganda of its adherents. Esperanto needs no detailed history or exposition of its nature. The ordinary man is quite unaware of previous or later attempts at the solution of the problem of the I. L. (except possibly in the case of Volapuk) and to him the word Esperanto stands for the equivalent to the I. L..

Zamenhof's first book appeared in Russian in the year 1887. The first Society was founded in St. Petersburg in 1892. Its progress was at first very slow, especially in western Europe, and it was only after 1898, when the distinguished scholar Marquis Louis de Beaufront, himself an originator of an a priori project, took hold of the language and gave it his powerful support that it attained a wide extension. It is not too much to say that the early extension and magnitude of the Esp. movement originated with de Beaufront. He was the St. Paul. To quote the words of an Esperantist author (Clark, International Language, p, 109, 110) de Beaufront was "the greatest and most fervent of all the apostles of Esperanto. In a series of grammars, commentaries, and dictionaries he expounded the language and made it accessible to numbers who, without his energy and zeal, would have never been interested in it."

Zamenhof was inspired to create his language largely by reason of his observation of the bitter animosity which existed between the different language groups of his native city. He was a man of idealistic, humanitarian temperament who felt that one of the great causes of nationalistic hatreds was the diversity of languages and consequent lack of mutual understanding. His study of the English grammar and syntax was a revelation to him and influenced him very considerably in the formation of his language. He was unacquainted with the southern Romance languages (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese) which lead him to undervalue the great body of international Romance roots.(1) His adoption of many French roots, however, gave a considerable basis of Romance internationality which would otherwise have been lacking. His knowledge of Russian, Polish, German largely influenced him in the construction of his alphabet and the selection of many words in his vocabulary. Esperanto has conquered an honored place for itself in the hearts of a multitude of its adherents, The fierce loyalty of its followers is remarkable as well as heartening to all who look forward to the governmental adoption of some form of I. L.. Its support and propaganda have come largely from the ranks of the common men, though it has attracted the attention of some scholars and the favorable endorsement of a number of prominent personages, it should be said right here, however, that this endorsement of Esp. by prominent people and the majority of scholars is primarily an endorsement of the idea, as almost none of them have bothered to make any exhaustive study of the language or attempt to use it in foreign intercourse. When we read therefore of His Excellency..., His Highness..., Professor... as recommending the introduction of Esperanto as a second world language, we should understand that these distinguished gentlemen are favorable toward the adoption of an I. L, rather than that they have studied Esperanto and the general problem.

As to the number of its adherents, it is impossible to state anything definite. Esperanto, like Ido, suffered greatly from the breakage of communications during the war. Many tens of thousands of people have purchased its textbooks or at least its leaflets which serve as "keys" to the different languages. Its claim to "millions of adherents" must be very largely discounted. In fact, Esperanto "statistics" are so often exaggerated or misleading as to lead the cautious man to ignore them all together. The leading Esperantists constitute an enthusiastic group with a fondness for large numbers and an astonishing forgetfulness of the fact that a majority of those who purchase their textbooks and leaflets fail to make any particular study or use of the language after the first interest has worn away. However, this comparative smallness in numbers and practical effectiveness must be expected, lack of official support and the fact that the pecuniary means must come out of the people in humble or modest circumstances makes very difficult the support of adequate journals, especially since the war.(2)

Contrary to the opinion of many Espists, the Idists do not look upon the growth of Esp. with entire disfavor. The Idist group recognizes the obvious fact that their own language has been for many years in a formative stage and because of the lack of proper dictionaries and textbooks was, is even now in most countries not in a position to carry on an effective propaganda. Every Espist is looked upon as a possible adherent to Ido, if he can be reached later through an exposition of the relative merits of the two rival languages. The defects of Esperanto will be treated later on in this paper.




The artificial language known as Ido had its origin in the work of the Delegation pour l'Adoption d'une Langue Auxiliaire Internationale. The Delegation devoted seven years to an examination of more than sixty schemes for an artificial language and in 1907 appointed a Working committee of eminent representatives of all important language groups with the object of summing up the previous work of the Delegation and adopting an international auxiliary language capable of serving the needs of science, commerce and general intercourse. In October of that year, eighteen long and fatiguing sessions were held in Paris. The Secretaries of the Committee were Professors Couturat and Leau, two eminent philologists and mathematicians, who were the authors of "L'Histoire de la Langue Universelle" and "Les Nouvelles Langues Internationales", the two standard works on the subject of the I. L..


The members who took part in the proceedings were as follows:

Prof. Dr. Louis Couturat;

Prof. Dr. L. Leau (Univ. of Paris);

Prof. Otto Jespersen (Univ. of Copenhagen), Philologist;

Prof. Dr. Baudouin de Courtenay (Univ. of St, Petersburg), Philologist;

Mr. P. D. Hugon (London); Linguist, (representing Mr. W. T. Stead);

Dr. E. Boirac (Rector of the Univ. of Dijon), Linguist and President of the Espist 'Lingva Komitato';

M. Gaston Moch (Paris); Linguist (acted as deputy and voting representative for Rector Boirac in the sessions at which he was unable to be present. M. Moch was Secretary of the Espist 'Centra Oficejo' and a member of the 'Lingva Komitato';

Prof. Dr. Förster (Ex-Director of the Observatory in Berlin), Prof. Förster was elected an Honorary President, but was able to take part in only a few sessions;

Prof. Dr. W. Ostwald (Emeritus Prof. of Leipzig Univ.); Philologist and Nobel Prize-Winner for Chemistry;

Prof. Dr. G. Peano (Univ. of Turin); Mathematician and author of 'Latina sen flexiono', later known as 'Interlingua';

Abbey Dimmet (Professor of living languages in Paris); representative of Mr. G. Harvey, Editor N. A. Review, New York;

Dr. Paul Rodet Paris); representative of Professor (of medicine). Ch. Bauchard, a member of the Academy of Sciences in Paris;

Mr. G. Rados, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.


Those who voted at the final session were: Messers Ostwald, de Courtenay, Jespersen, Dimmet, Hugon, Moch, Rodet, Couturat, Leau. Professor Ostwald was elected President of the Committee, General Sebert attended to the counting of the votes.

The eminence and ability of this committee that finally decided upon the selection of Ido cannot be questioned. Any future committee must respect its findings and have as data for consideration the facts already studied. As will be shown later, the field of practical discussion is a narrow one, consisting in the problem of using in the most efficient way the elements which are international in the natural languages. Said Professor Ostwald. "Although these labors were very fatiguing, they proved all the more effective for the progressive elucidation of the problem in hand. From the very multiplicity of the attempts at a solution and their discussion there arose in the minds of the workers, in a manner never to be forgotten, a clear conception of the main conditions required for a successful solution of the problem, and a recognition of the errors which a disregard of one or other of these conditions had produced in the existing systems."

A number of inventors of the different language systems availed themselves of the opportunity to appear in person and defend their projects before the Committee:

Dr. Nicholas (Spokil), Mr. Spitzer (Parla), Mr. Bollack (La langue bleue). Prof. Monseur, explained Idiom-Neutral, "yet his plea had a character less of positive defense of Neutral than zealous and expert insistence on the weakness of Esperanto." All the members of the Committee were familiar with Esperanto and Messers Boirac and Moch were important officials in the Esp. movement. Moreover, Dr. Zamenhof, not being present, was directly represented by de Beaufront. The Committee considered all projects in the objective, scientific spirit and, says Prof. Jespersen, "our final result absolutely could not have been different, even if Dr. Zamenhof himself had been present in person before us." The discussions finally narrowed themselves down to a consideration of Esperanto, Idiom-Neutral, Novlatin.

Universal was considered defective largely because of the irregular character of its root construction (in comparison with Esperanto) which came about from a desire to give a "natural" form to the words. Its roots, lacking as they were in final vowels, had an abrupt, uneuphonious sounds (Pisk nat in mar: fishes swim in the sea.)

Neutral was, aside of Esperanto, the most serious and complete system. Especially in its favor was the greater internationality of its vocabulary, in comparison with Esperanto, and the fact that it had no supersigned letters which demanded special print. Against it were certain criticisms: two different sounds for c and g; the admittance of c and qu (not the q of Ido) as equivalents to k (writing, for example, "copequi" for kopeki); the admission of double letters, accumulations of unpronounceable consonants in many words; lack of a logical system of derivation which resulted in several root words for one idea,(3) lack of characteristic grammatical finals: -o, -a, etc. which made it often necessary to consider a sentence as a whole before it could be determined to what part of speech a certain word belonged.

In spite of such defects as have been mentioned above, it might be said, in view of the rejection by the Committee of the supersigned letters of Esp. and the adoption of a more international vocabulary along the lines of Neutral, that if there had existed in Neutral(5) a system of final vowels serving to indicate the grammatical specie of the word: noun, adjective, etc., as is the case in Esp., that which in substance the Committee adopted was nearer to Neutral than to Esp., and the new language might well have been termed 'Reformed Neutral' instead of "Simplified" or "Scientific Esperanto." Prof. Jespersen states:

"If we preferred definitely to adopt Esp, as the basis which was adopted in altered form, that was done out of regard for the Espists in thanks for their important work in making the idea of a world language known and popular, and not for any other cause whatever."

After exhaustive consideration, the Committee adopted the following (unanimous) declaration:

"None of the existing languages can be adopted in its entirety and without changes. But the Committee decides in principle to adopt Esperanto because of its relative perfection and the many and varied uses to which it has been put, but with the reservation of several changes to be carried out by a "Permanent Commission" in the direction indicated by the conclusion of the Secretaries Report and the Ido project; this to be done, if possible, in agreement with the Esperantist Language Committee"

The chief alterations demanded in Esp. were as follows:

(1) The replacement of certain letters requiring special type by Latin letters, thus allowing the language to be printed anywhere.

(2) The suppression of certain useless grammatical rules in regard to the invariable use of the accusative form and concord of adjectives.

(3) The regularization of the system of word derivation, in order to make the language a more precise instrument for the expression of thought.

(4) The enrichment of the vocabulary by all words necessary to translate exact ideas, in accordance with Jespersen's principle of maximum internationality.

It is important to remember that the decision was unanimous, therefore concurred in even by the Esperantist members of the Committee.(6)

It is also important to keep in mind in any consideration of the relative merits of Ido and Esp., that the changes made were along the lines of the fundamental recommendations above outlined.

The necessity for the reforms demanded seems to me to be obvious almost at sight to any impartial and scientific mind uninfluenced by notions as to the desirability of holding to the primitive form of Esp. for practical reasons of propaganda.

The initiation of most of these reforms was chiefly due to Marquis L. de Beaufront, the "St. Paul of the Esperantist movement," who submitted them in a printed pamphlet to the Committee under the pseudonym of "Ido" (i.e. a derivative). None of the Committee (excepting possibly one of the Secretaries, prof. Couturat) knew or cared to know the identity of the author. What was adopted was not Ido but Esperanto "subject to changes by the project called Ido." Therefore, Ido as finally elaborated differs in a considerable number of points from the project as submitted by de Beaufront.

It is to be remembered that these meetings were simply the culminating point of years of study and were called for the purpose of final decision. The question of a scientific reform of Esp. was not first thought of in October 1907. As will be shown later from the published correspondence between Zamenhof and Couturat, it was known prior to the time of the meetings that Esp. could probably be accepted only in a modified form. De Beaufront recognizing this fact, submitted his project which embodied changes that his great knowledge of the subject and past experience made seem necessary to him.

Had the Committee adopted Esp. in its primitive form or had they adopted some modified form of Neutral, probably nothing would have been said of the "disloyalty" of De Beaufront. As a result of the successful adoption of the changes suggested by de Beaufront (and the subsequent break with the Espists) he has since been constantly the object of continued malicious personal attacks - "Judas" being one of the usual epithets applied to him.

Without attempting any close judgment as to the ethics of the acts of de Beaufront in his position as the personal representative of Zamenhof, these attacks do seem to those who look upon the subject from an objective, scientific standpoint to be unjustified and calumnious. The Committee was a scientific, not a propaganda body, De Beaufront knew (and Zamenhof knew) before the meetings that it was hardly probable that Esperanto would be accepted without changes. He thus felt justified in urging modifications, not only from a scientific standpoint, but in order to make Esp. acceptable to the Committee and thus avoid a break in the movement.

The Committee, in recognition of the long and self-sacrificing efforts of the large and important body of Espists, desired no break with that body and consequently withheld their findings from the public until the Espist 'Lingva Komitato' could be communicated with. Esp. had a numerous so-called 'Lingva Komitato' scattered throughout the world. Practically none of them were people of prominence or competence in the linguistic field. Their chief object was to preserve the purity of the language rather than to make betterments. Probably a vast majority knew nothing of the scientific aspects of the problem. They had done nothing in the past to perfect Esp. and, it may be said, nothing since, except the adoption of some hundreds of new roots, and the two suffixes: -ach, and -ism. These two suffixes are, so far as I know, the sole fruit of Esp. evolution.(7) Out of the 61 members of the Lingva Komitato which expressed an opinion, 8 declared themselves insufficiently informed to pronounce a judgment on such an important matter; 8 accepted without question the changes recommended, 11 expressed themselves as favorable to some changes to be decided upon after further consultation with the Delegation Committee, and 34 refused to treat with the Delegation although they declared that "they did not disapprove in principle of changes in Esperanto." Rector Boirac recognizing the fact that the proposals as submitted had not been sufficiently explained to the Lingva Komitato proposed to Dr. Zamenhof on the 7th of January, 1908: (1) to continue the correspondence with the Delegation Committee; (2) to prepare a report on the proposed recommendations. However, seven days later, Dr. Zamenhof, in a letter to Prof. Ostwald, the President of the Committee, formally broke off all relations.

The rocks which really wrecked the accord between the two bodies were:

(1) The demand of the Espists that the Delegation take no independent action but submit its findings for acception or rejection of Esperanto to the Espists themselves who regarded Esp. as "a living language of a living people," concerning which no outside parties had any rights except of suggestion, unless they be commissioned by the various governments. To this the Committee replied that, in their judgment, the Esp. Lingva Komitato was quite as private an affair as the Delegation Committee, which at least had the moral authority that goes with a competent body of scientists in an examination of a scientific subject. That to refuse any fundamental changes until they were demanded by officials from the various governments was to adjurn the solution to the "Greek kalends". In short, the Delegation Committee being composed of scholars of whom many had never been Espists did not feel themselves obligated to submit to the rejection of their proposals by a less competent body.

(2) The Esp. Lingva Komitato being an amorphous body with little knowledge of the questions at issue were naturally inclined to believe their language to be good enough as it stood and to trust to the leadership of a few influential men who really decided the question. Said M. Moch. general secretary to the Esp. Centra oficejo and a member of the Delegation Committee who formally adhered to the Ido movement in 1912: "I did all I could to affect a union of the Espist and Idists, but I failed because of the resistance of three very influential Espists, who were irreconcileably opposed to all reforms of Esperanto." It has been asserted, I do not know with how much truth, that a certain publishing company that possessed a complete stock of the Esperanto supersigned type and that had the sole right to publish the official Esperantist publications, used its influence against the proposed reforms both at this time and once before when changes had been proposed. It felt that it had supporter Esp. when it was weak and was naturally not inclined to give up the privilege of making money now that the sale of the publications was a profitable venture. The argument that radical changes would mean the scrapping of the existing stock of textbooks, etc. was at least practical.

(3) The difference in aim and mentality between the Esp. propaganda organization and the body of learned men who composed the Delegation Committee. In 1907, the Espists were at the height of their success. After years of obscurity they had, thanks largely to the efforts of de Beaufront, succeeded in attracting the attention of the public and in recruiting a considerable body of adherents. They were much in the position of a commercial company that after long effort had succeeded in getting a market for its goods but now found its progress threatened by a lot of technicians whose aim was to tinker with their product and thus produce serious disorganization in their selling program. Most of the Espists were practical men, loyal to their "kara lingvo", little interested in the scientific aspects of the problem and fearful that continued changes would break up their propaganda organization.

The Espists pointed to the break up of the Volapukist movement when dissentients were allowed to creep in. From the narrow but practical view of propaganda the Esp. attitude toward reform certainly had justification. The followers of any large organized movement must often give up their own predilections for the sake of discipline and the effectiveness of the whole organisation.

But a fundamental defect must be corrected within an organization or it will sooner or later be corrected by pressure from without. The Espists forgot the fact, or would not recognize the fact that the Volapukist break up, which they themselves had brought about, was due, not to ambitious leaders who wished to head a separate organization but to the inherent defects of the Volapukist language itself. Esp. was a more efficient type of I. L. than Volapuk, therefore Esp. won out just as Ido is bound to win out over Esp. unless some more efficient form of I. L. is developed than Ido.

However much it may hurt individuals, or individual organizations the world in the course of time will adopt that type of machinery or form of artificial I. L. which will best do the work. Should Ido fail to develop all the requirements of a proper I. L. and some other type of I. L. be invented which did fulfil all the conditions, that new language would finally conquer. It is our hope and judgment, that Ido has, or will develop, all the necessary qualifications.

As a matter of fact, the split between the Esperantist propagandists and the Idist linguists was probably the best thing that could have happened. When the Permanent Commission (which was formed out of the Delegation Committee) started to apply to the details of the language the radical and far reaching recommendations outlined by the Delegation Committee, they found themselves confronted by a multiplicity of small problems which took years of study to work out in satisfactory form. Had the Idists stuck fast to the tentative changes in Esperanto shown in the Idist textbooks of 1908, and started an intensive propaganda, it is quite probable that the Idist movement would have completely disorganized and won out over the old Esp. movement. But the continued changes made it difficult to hold together a large body of adherents who were mainly interested in a diffusion of the language. As a result, Esp., by shutting out all changes in the language, has been able to go ahead and win adherents to the idea of an I. L. and the Idists have been able to go ahead and perfect their language awaiting the time when the world will recognize the necessity for adopting the most efficient type of I. L.. The lesson is that constant changes, even though they be betterments, make propaganda difficult, but that if the betterments are not made within an organization, some outside movement will spring up and force the acceptance of the changes.




The expected and hoped for accord with the Espists having failed, the Delegation Committee considered its special task as fulfilled and, in accordance with article VI of the Declaration of the Delegation, which read as follows:

"Il appartiendra au Comité de créer une Société de propagande destinée à répandre l'usage de la Langue auxiliaire qui aura été choisie",

there was instituted a Permanent Committee which some months later formed the Uniono di la Amiki di la Linguo Internaciona with an Academy and Directing Committee.(8) Textbooks and dictionaries for the tentative form of the language were prepared in accordance with the decisions of the Delegation Committee. A sixty page monthly journal was established under the editorship of Professor Couturat, especially intended for the further discussion of linguistic problems, which continued in publication until the death of Professor Couturat at the outbreak of the war in 1914.

The findings of the Committee having been laid down on broad lines, the further intensive study of the details was participated in not only by the members of the Idist Academy but by more than a hundred other persons interested in the subject. The consequent continued changes and additions especially to the vocabulary made extensive propaganda difficult to sustain, because the textbooks could not be kept up to date. However, the Uniono received the adherence of several thousands and brought about, prior to the war the printing of a dozen small journals in the language, in addition to the official linguistic journal, PROGRESO. Just prior to the outbreak of the war, the Idist Academy considered the formative period of the language at an end and declared a period of stability to last at least ten years in order to summarize the work done and issue textbooks and vocabularies which would reflect the developed state of the language and serve for propaganda. Being essentially an international undertaking, the war seriously impeded the expected propaganda.

The death of Professor Couturat by a motor accident on the 3rd of August, 1914, was a tremendous loss to the Ido movement. Had he lived, his great influence in scholarly circles and his tireless industry and enthusiasm would doubtless have greatly expedited the growth of Ido in spite of the impediments presented by the war. Couturat was a man of the highest scholarship and of an almost machine-like precision of mind. Prior to 1901, he had made his mark in the scholarly world by his philosophical and mathematical works. His knowledge of the general problem of the I. L. was unrivaled. By his death, which fortunately only came at the close of the period of formative labor, Ido and the I. L. movement in general sustained a loss which is difficult to estimate in its magnitude.

The more than 4,000 pages of PROGRESO constitute an invaluable store of linguistic discussion which cannot be ignored in any future investigations. In 1915, there was published the French-Ido dictionary (584 pages). In 1919, there appeared the German-Ido dictionary (823 pages). An Ido-English dictionary has been completed which embodies the vast amount of work done on the language by the discussions and decisions of the Academy. It is now in course of publication. A large Ido-French dictionary is slowly being published. A considerable amount of other dictionary work has been done which is yet mostly in manuscript form owing to lack of funds.

Since the end of the war, the Ido movement has been slowly but surely gaining momentum. As soon as proper dictionaries can be published, an extensive propaganda and use may be regarded as certain.

The great difficulty of the present time is the lack of funds due largely to the depreciation of European monies. Ido is not a sort of code language like Esp. for which small "keys" suffice but a rounded out, coherent language which demands large and accurate dictionaries, which cost a considerable amount to print. It is hoped that Ido will soon attract the attention of some man of wealth who will be wise enough and generous enough to endow the movement with sufficient funds to publish the necessary dictionaries and textbooks. If this is done, Ido can be trusted to succeed by its own merits.

Ido bases its claim to be a practically final form of a world language, not on the number of its present adherents, but on its efficiency. It is not the work of one man, or of a dozen, but the reasoned product of many scholars. No future committee can ignore the judgment of the competent scholars who originated and guided it. It has no sacred, inviolable fundamento and does not claim to be absolutely final in all its details, but it seems unlikely that any future committee, that may study the subject, can find a better solution, taken as a whole.

Its basic principle is best expressed in the happy formula enunciated by Prof. Jespersen: "The international language is best which is easiest for the greatest number of men," (an adaptation of Bentham's famous ethical formula). This formula of 'facility' must, however, be understood as including the postulate of "perfection", i.e. the capability of expressing clearly, exactly and logically all human thought. Esperanto is "easy" but it is, compared to Ido, a relatively imperfect instrument for the expression of thought. Said Couturat:

"Not only does I. L. (Ido) offer to them (philosophers), as it does to all men, a medium of communication between all countries, but it furnishes them also with an instrument of precision for the analysis and exact expression of the forms of thought, which is very superior, from the point of view of logic, to our traditional languages, encumbered as they are by confused and ambiguous expressions."




In 1894, Dr. Zamenhof recommended many reforms subsequently carried out in Ido. He wrote:

"We should do away with the supersigned letters. In theory they seem to be all right but practice shows them to be a grave barrier in the diffusion of our language. Due to the fact that the printers do not possess these special letters, the general printing of our books is almost impossible... The language can exist very well without the accusative... I propose to form the plural by -i (vice -oj)... The agreement of the adjective with the noun is superfluous ballast." These proposals were put to vote and rejected (157 to 107) by a conservative majority composed in large part of Russians and Germans, supported by the publishers.


In August 1905, the Esp. Congress assembled in Boulogne-sur-Mer adopted as the basic law of Esp., the famous Fundamento de Esperanto, which consists of the first textbook of 1887, which contained the 16 rules of grammar and the 925 original roots. The declaration stated, in brief, that until some authoritative body chosen by the chief nations should decide to make changes "no person and no society should have the right arbitrarily to make in our Fundamento even the smallest changes. The Fundamento must remain severely inviolable even in its errors."(9) The Dresden Congress of 1908 and the Barcelona Congress(10) of 1910 repeated the adherence to the Fundamento and, except for some still-born proposals of Zamenhof in 1906 which will be described later, the Espists have consistently opposed any betterments or changes.

Any reforms therefore must be in the way of augment (neologisms), never of change. Individual Esp. writers have in the course of years added several thousand words to their vocabularies in the way of neologisms, some of which have been officialized by the Esp. Lingva Komitato.

Says Clark (I. L., p. 121): "The Lingva Komitato is in no sense an academy or legislative body, having for its object to change or improve the language (as is the case with the Ido Academy); it is the duly constituted and widely representative authority, which watches the spread and development of the language, maintaining its purity, and helping with judicious guidance." The method of Esperanto is to leave the introduction of new words to the taste or necessity of the individual authors. If the arbitrary choice of the author meets with favor (is copied by other authors), the Lingva Komitato may sooner or later officialize it. In Ido, the members of the Akademio study each proposed new word in the light of the different forms of the word found in the various languages, together with the definitions, and then introduce that word into the vocabulary. In other words, the method of Esp. is to construct the vocabulary by individual use; that of Ido is scientifically controlled evolution. A further discussion of this subject will be found under "Vocabulary".

The method of neologism cannot reform the alphabet, the phonetics, the grammar, nor incorporate new words which would change the spelling or sense of the original roots. Because Zamenhof originally reserved the root ment-(o) to signify the botanical word mint, this root is forever interdicted to signify mind (Esp.: menso!), however international it may be for that signification. Because afekt- was selected to signify, show affection, the more international form: afektac- cannot be used for that meaning, and afekt- used for the sense of: to affect. Because strato is used for "street", we cannot change the spelling to strado and use strato in the geological sense, etc. It has been found necessary in Ido to change in some form or another hundreds of the original Esp. roots in order to obtain a more international form or to avoid collision in meaning with other roots.

As is evident from the correspondence between Dr. Zamenhof and Prof. Couturat, published in supplement form in PROGRESO, Zamenhof played a double role toward the work of the Delegation. As a linguist he felt that Esp. was imperfect and therefore, in theory at least, approved projects of reform. As a tactician, he was obsessed with a desire to preserve unity in the ranks; the prospect of any considerable changes, or indefinite series of changes made him fear that they would break up the organisation so painfully gotten together. He was above all else a man of high ideals interested in the "internal idea", i.e. the potency of Esp. in reducing international misunderstandings.

In a letter dated August 27th, 1903, Zamenhof stated: "If the (International) Academies would be willing to accept Esp., I would not protest against betterments, but would even beg for that which an authoritative committee might find to be useful." On December 4, 1906, he writes: "I will favor anything that the Delegation Committee may decide upon, if your Committee is sufficiently powerful to forward the movement better than Esp., which I doubt." On January 13th, 1907 (nine months before the meetings in Paris) he repeatedly urges "caution" (singardeco) in the findings of the Committee. If Esp. is not chosen, he says, "it will cause a great scandal which will kill the whole idea (movement), because Esp. will become discredited and perish. In that case it would be the duty of the Espists to conceal from the public the findings of the Delegation" (kaj la esperantistoj devos ech per chiuj fortoj kashi vian agon). If Esp. be chosen, he begs with almost pathetic insistence that the wording of the findings should not read that the Delegation "made election between the different languages and chose Esp.", but that it should simply state that it chose Esp. without mention of the fact that there existed other forms of I. L. worthy of consideration.(11) Prof. Couturat said in a note on this point: "This is but the tactics of the ostrich. Here is why the Espists now endeavor to conceal Ido from the public by all possible means." But does Dr. Zamenhof, who always appeals to the governments (for an official decision) imagine that no inquiry will be made in regard to the other I. L. languages, and "projects?" Will they blindly believe the Esp. bluster and accept without question the "inviolable language" without examining into it? This naive fear that the public would learn of the existence of competing forms of I. L. was, of course, from the scientific point of view simply puerile and justified the caustic comments of Prof. Couturat, but it perhaps had some justification from the viewpoint of practical propaganda, as the rank and file of the Espists were not linguists, but idealists.

On January 18, 1907, Prof. Couturat wrote to Zamenhof stating that he was finding great opposition to the idea of any changes, among certain influential Espists, and that, in his opinion, the question was reduced to this: Whether Esp. would be adopted with or without betterments. Zamenhof replied that if the Committee would take Esp. without conditions and leave all question of betterment to the Esp. Lingva Komitato, all would be well. In January, 1908, Zamenhof stated, in view of the fact that the Delegation Committee refused to submit itself to the control of the Lingva Komitato, that in the future no changes would be permitted in Esperanto except they be recommended by some authoritative congress arranged by the governments.


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1 - The Italian and the Spanish represent more directly and faithfully than the French the Latin stems.

2 - The May (1922) number of the Amerika Esperantisto gives the following information: 250 as the number of members in the Espist Asso. of North America (which includes not only the U. S. but Canada, etc.). Subscriptions to the official journal at a dollar a head, plus all cash sales and sales of foreign exchange journals, amounted to a total of $500.00. Esperanto has been before the American public for years and thousands of its books or leaflets have been sold. Yet this is the result. However, in the United States, distant as we are from the linguistic complications of Europe, the need for an I. L. is not so apparent as on the Continent. Self-complacent Uncle Sam is hardly a fair example.

3 - admitt, admission; applaud, applaus, etc. From avie (bird) was derived aviar (to aviate, to fly), also other words as aviator, aviation.

4 - Idiom-Neutral used final vowels to indicate gender.

6 - Rector Boirac, who afterwards broke with the Delegation, justified his vote and subsequent action as follows: "As a member of the Delegation, I voted (through my substitute: M. Moch) to reform Esp.; but as an Esperantist, I have had to nullify that decision."

7 - -ach, a pejorative, expressing contempt; -ism, denoting a distinctive doctrine.

8 - The distinctive name "Ido" was adopted only after the refusal of Dr. Zamenhof to permit the use of the word Esperanto in connection with the new form of language.

9 - "Neniu persono kaj neniu societo devas havi la rajton arbitre fari en nia Fundamento ian ech plej malgrandan shanghon... La Fundamento devas resti severe netushebla ech kune kun siaj eraroj."

10 - "Ni restos fidelaj." "Ni iras trankvile nia vojon." "Ni neniam plu parolas pri la reformoj." "Fiksita unu fojon por chiam."

11 - "Viaj vortoj pri la "elekto" havos terure pereigan efikon, ili donos armilojn en la manojn de niaj malamikoj, ili detruos chiujn niajn ghisnunajn akirojn, ili denove ekdubigos kaj fortimigos de nia ideo chiujn, kiuj jam estis pretaj labori por ghi, - char la mondo diros: "nun ni eksciis, ke ekzistas multaj egalvaloraj artaj lingvoj, sekve ni povas alighi al neniu el ili, char se unu komitato hodiau elektis unu lingvon, kie ni havas la garantion, ke morgau alia komitato ne elektos alian lingvon."




Pages 1 to 24

Pages 24 to 54

Pages 54 to 74
Pages 74 to 85

Pages 86 to 101

Pages 101 to 124

Pages 121 to 139

Pages 140 to the end


The International Language IDO - Reformed Esperanto 1