Esp. textbooks and dictionaries inform us that all adjectives end in -a but they do not attempt to inform us of the various significations which this one terminal letter carries. The Idists, recognizing the utter inadequacy of this sole adjectival suffix, were compelled to introduce several new terminations of which -ala, -oza, -iva are prominent examples.(1)

In Ido, -a is the primary grammatical final of that great class of words which fundamentally express quality (see p. 43), such as blu-a, simpl-a, facil-a. It carries the signification and answers the question "what is"; consequently blu-a: (what, which is) blue; simpl-a: (what is) simple; facil-a: (what is) easy. Added to nominal roots denoting a substance, it has the same meaning, example: marmor-a statuo, marble statue (a statue made of or which is marble; or-a vazo: gold (made of) vase; hom-a ento: an entity which is human; aqu-a voyo: water way (a way composed of water).

The suffix -ala is the ordinary adjectival termination (except where the adjective is used to denote a substance out of which a thing is made, composed of, as in marmora, aqua above) for that great class of roots which are nouns in the fundamental significance. It expresses the idea: pertaining to, relative to, suitable to. We have thousands of words where there is such use in English: autumnal, royal, poetical, mural, etc. Therefore we find in Ido: sexu-o: sex, sexu-ala: sexual; spin-o, -ala; statistik-o, -ala; cerebr-o, -ala; manu-o, -ala; kordi-o, -ala; braki-o, -ala, etc. which the Espists have to express in adjective form by -a: seks-a, spin-a, statistik-a, cerb-a, man-a, kor-a, brak-a, thus differentiating them in no way from adjectives which carry a different meaning: blu-a, simpl-a, etc. The use of -ala permits not only a necessary distinction in meaning, but is consonant with the usage of natural languages and tends to euphony. A puer-ala ago signifies a childish act, not an act which is a child (!); aqua-ala ludi: water sports, does not refer to sports 'made of water', but sports relating to, pertaining to water; nacion-ala legi: national laws, does not mean laws 'which are a nation' (!), but laws relating to a nation. The Ido suffix -oza is used to form adjectives signifying, full of, containing, provided with, ornamented with: kuraj-oza: courageous (full of courage); danjer-oza: dangerous (full of danger); ambici-oza: ambitious (filled with ambition); joy-oza: joyous (full of joy); (Esp. has: kuragh-a, dangher-a, ambici-a, ghoj-a). The use of this suffix is so widespread and its need so evident, that I forbear to give it any extended comment. A ston-a voyo: a road made out of stone is surely different from a ston-oza voyo: a road full of stones. An aqu-a voyo: a waterway (as a canal) differs from an aqu-oza voyo a road full of water. A nerv-ala morbo: a nervous disease, i.e. a disease relating to the nerves. Nerv-a tisuo: nerve tissue, i.e. a tissue composed of nerves. Nerv-oza persono (or nerv-ika persono) a person abounding in nerves (or a person with sick nerves).

The suffix -iva, though the use is not as widespread as the suffixes mentioned above, is useful and essential to express the idea: that can (do), capable of, and is added to verbal roots, ex.: instrukt-iva: instructive; nutr-iva: nourishing; sugest-iva: suggestive. The nominal form of this suffix: -ivo, is especially useful in technical and scientific language: astrikt-ivo, an astringent; nutr-ivo a nutrititous substance. Let us take a sentence which expresses the distinctions above mentioned. The Esp. word instru-a may be used to express three essentially different ideas: (1) what belongs to instruction, what relates to instruction (in Ido: instrukt-ala); (2) which can (is able to) instruct (in Ido: instrukt-iva); (3) which contains abundant instruction (in Ido: instrukt-oza). Therefore, we may say in Ido: Quankam ta verko ne esas libro instruktala, tamen ol esas instruktiva e mem instruktoza. In Esp.: Kvankam tiu verko ne estas libro instrua, tamen ghi estas instrua, kaj mem instrua. (2) In English: Although this work is not an instruction book (like a textbook), yet it is instructive (capable of instruction) and even full of instruction. Any form of I. L. incapable of making such simple distinctions is lacking in an essential manner.

The substantivizing of the verb and the lack of exactness in the signification of the adjective have been dwelt upon at some length because the subjects are very important and are matters which affect the very fundamentals of ordinary usage. I shall not attempt to do more than mention other important problems wherein Esp. is imperfect, such as the substantivizing of the adjective, the proper use of -aj with verbal roots, the necessity for additional affixes, such as -uro which enables us to distinguish the result or product of an act from the act itself,(3) or the desirability of having -atra useful and necessary in thousands of words, or the affix -end signifying "what must be done."(4) Nor shall I attempt to fathom the Zamenhofan psychological process which led him to double or even triple certain root words (5) for related ideas all of which are properly derivable from one root, or why Esp. has mistiko to signify the doctrine mysticism (mistik-ulo: a mystic) and romantiko to signify romanticism while such forms as katoliko and skeptiko are used for the persons who hold such beliefs.

Nor dwell on the fact that Esp. has only one termination to denote sex, -ino a female.(6)

The fact of the matter is that when Zamenhof first constructed his simple code language with less than a thousand roots, scientific exactness of expression was not thought of. The practical success of his code language was so great as to incline the author to believe that it was a scientific instrument expressive of all thought. Zamenhof attempted no prolonged analysis (as did Couturat) of the relations of language and thought and his practical followers for reasons of propaganda have stood in the way of any changes. For the Esp. it suffices that the -o, -a indicate the respective parts of speech without any close inquiry as to the meanings of the parts of speech so formed. The fact that a substantive form of a verb does not as it logically should refer to the act, but to an implement, a person, or what not, does not bother the Espist, he simply refers you to the vocabulary for the signification or to the usage of the "best authors." That one simple adjective form may stand for widely differing ideas matters not -- one can divine the proper sense.

I think, I have made it plain to the reader that Esp. as it stands to-day is lacking in many fundamental points of logical and common sense derivation. Though supporters claim it to be an instrument "ready and fit" for all uses, such is not the case. All the innovations which the Idists have felt compelled to introduce into primitive Esp. are not merely subtle distinctions, without practical use, which make appeal only to logicians, but are essential to form a coherent derivative system necessary to express ordinary relations of thought for which the old affixes do not suffice. As Couturat once said: "There can exist no other system (than that of Ido) entirely regular and logical. For the whole system depends not upon election and use of some affixes (the forms of which are more or less arbitrary), but upon the immediate derivation, i.e. upon the relations between the substantive, adjective, verb and adverb formed from the same root grammatical endings -o, -a, -ar, -e. These relations cannot be invented arbitrarily nor defined in several ways. For the whole language is founded upon the principle that every root, even every element, of a word has only one invariable meaning which it retains in all the compositions it enters into;" (PROGRESO, vol. 1, p. 390.)(7) The changes though but comparatively few in number, go down deep into the words of every day use. The effect of their adoption was far reaching and demanded a complete reworking of the vocabulary. The derivative system of primitive Esp. contained many excellent ideas and marked a great advance on what had before been presented, but it was imperfect and could not be accepted as it stood by the body of scholars which composed the Delegation Committee.




The facility of comprehension and use of the vocabulary is perhaps the most important factor in an I. L.. It may be worth our while to review briefly the method by which a vocabulary for the I. L. may be formed:

(1) The a priori method of selecting arbitrary combinations of letters. Such a vocabulary is the very height of neutrality, for it would be equally difficult to all. It is a sufficient objection to state that such a language would lose the great facility of one founded on an a posteriori basis and would put an intolerable burden on the memory.

(2) The method of "equal difficulty", i.e. of apportioning the roots among the different languages, so that no one linguistic group would have any advantage in facility over another - taking so many words from the Italian, a like number from the French, etc. No form of I. L. based on this principle of selection has ever been worked out, or is likely to be. It is evident that a vocabulary so constructed would be at least neutral in theory and therefore less likely to arouse nationalistic and linguistic prejudices than a form of vocabulary which is easier for some peoples than for others.(9)

Such a scheme is impracticable under the existing linguistic facts. If all European languages differed from one another even as much as the Russian differs from the English, and the French from the German, then there might exist good reason for attempting such a solution. The fact is, however, that our languages are not entirely independent growths and several of them are closely interrelated. A large number of Latin roots have penetrated even into the Germanic and Slavic languages. The English and Romance groups have a very large number of common roots which it would be exceedingly unwise to ignore. On the supposition that the selection was made by apportioning one-sixth to each of the great languages: DEFIRS, four of them: EFIS would doubtless select their portions from the stock common to all the members of this related group and consequently four-sixths, two-thirds, of the vocabulary would be easier for all the members of that group than it would be for the Germans and Russians. To suppose, for example, that the French would go out of their way to select their share of the roots from words peculiar to the French alone is to suppose the improbable. The result then could not greatly differ from what we now find in Ido or Esperanto. To make something more difficult to others without thereby gaining any corresponding advantage is contrary to common sense and our moral sentiments. Even if the languages did not possess a common fund of root words, there would arise many practical difficulties of selection.

To give the rarely used words to one group and the common, every-day words to another group would be manifestly unfair. Yet how difficult it would be to apportion exactly and fairly a number of roots which in use would give no advantage. We must decide that such a scheme, though seemingly fair and impartial at first sight, is impracticable under existing conditions. It is only mentioned because of the general haziness of the whole problem in the public mind.(10)

(3) The "etymological" or purely Latin-root method of selection. No word would be admitted (except possibly a few technical words, as telephone, boycott) which does not have its origin in the classical or medieval Latin. This method of selection might claim to do away with the labor of seeking some medium form of root from the divergent forms as they have developed in modern languages or the selection of one word from the several totally different ones which appear in modern languages to express a similar idea - all one would have to do would be to seek the Latin etymological form. A purely Latin vocabulary would be easy for peoples of the Romance group, especially the Italians, and would offer a certain degree of facility to all peoples because of the interpenetration of Latin words.

Against such a method of selection may be said (1) that any disregard of modern, maximum internationality means that the resulting I. L. must be less efficient, less easy for the peoples as a whole; (2) that it is an obvious concession to scholars trained under the classical tradition and perhaps to the Italians. To make concession to small groups, however important they may regard themselves, is unfair. Because Latin is easy for scholar and Italians, it by no means follows that Latin words have easy intelligibility and facile use to the common run of people for which an I. L. is chiefly intended; (3) that the purely etymological roots to be selected often differ considerably from all the developed forms of the same roots as they now appear and that as a consequence would be more difficult to remember and use than medium forms selected from modern languages; (4) that if the etymological forms of the roots were disregarded and some common spelling be selected from the modern form of the words, the resulting vocabulary would not greatly differ from that found in Idiom-Neutral and Ido; (5) that it ignores that large body of words common to English and German which by reason of predominance of population (to say nothing of cultural standing) have as much, if not more right to be taken into consideration as words derived from a dead language. If we are to let down on the principle of maximum internationality why should we not endeavor to favor especially the linguistic peculiarities of these two great and knowing peoples, as distinguished from the Romance group, they certainly are of more importance than the small group of classical scholars; (6) that the classical Latin was the reflex of a bygone civilization and is not applicable to modern conditions; (7) that the Latin words and sentences were used in an ambiguous and idiomatic manner which is extremely difficult to learn because they differ much from the modern signification and uses found in the varying modern language development; (8) that the resulting "dog-Latin" language would offend the classicists quite as much if not more than any I. L. based on purely modern internationality. The I. L. is a very practical affair. No concessions should be made for sentimental reasons to any one group. Any form of I. L. based on modern internationality is bound to contain a predominance of words which originally had their roots in the Latin, but this Latinity of the vocabulary should exist only to the extent that these particular roots are most international. In other words, the Latinity should be a consequence of the facts, not an unbending rule of selection by which we cannot make the most efficient use of the facts.

(4) Another method would be to select the root found in the greatest number of (European) languages -- that was the method of Idiom-Neutral. Each language is therefore to be considered on a parity with another, to have equal weight. Such a method marks an advance in efficiency over the restrictions imposed by the iron rule of selecting only Latin roots (and over the arbitrary selection of Zamenhof), because it definitely follows modern internationality, if not maximum internationality. The principle of selection is defective in that it fails to take into account the great disparity in the numbers the populations using the different languages and the cultural importance of the different linguistic groups. By this method, a stem or root-word used by the Spanish and Portuguese (85 millions) has theoretically an equal importance to a word common to the English and French (210 millions) or to the English and Germans (270 millions). As a language is a matter of individual use, such a method, if strictly followed, is likely to result in a loss of efficiency. As a matter of fact, however, the root selected by the Academy of Neutral did not greatly differ from the selection made by the Idist Academy. The Romance group, plus the English, have such a large body of common root words that the selection is practically forced in a majority of instances. A stem peculiar to the Spanish and Portuguese would be offset by a stem common to the French and Italian and probably the English. The Idist Academy recognizing the careful work of the Idiom-Neutral Academy (also that in the Novi Latin of Dr. Beermann) availed themselves of it for purposes of comparison and control.

(5) The Idist method of selection follows the principle of "maximum internationality of the roots", taking into consideration euphony and easy pronounceability. The principle is but part of the formula upon which the whole language is based. "That international language is best which offers the greatest facility to the greatest number." "The internationality of a root is therefore measured by the number of persons of European culture who are able to recognize and understand it without knowing any other language than their native tongue;" (Couturat). "Every one would naturally like to find in the I. L. the greatest number of roots that he is already familiar with, and, to be impartial we must attribute the same value to the natural preferences of the 120 million English-speaking persons as to each of the 75 million German speakers;" (Jespersen). Each language therefore enters into the calculation, not as a unit, as in Idiom-Neutral, but as a factor proportionate to the number of people who speak it. The facility of any scientific form of I. L. is founded upon the fact that the languages are not independent entities which must be balanced against one another but compose an interrelated growth wherein certain common forms can be uncovered and extracted. It is this great mass of interrelated roots which must characterize and form the vocabulary of an efficient I. L. constructed on an a posteriori basis. Maximum internationality, the greatest facility, are principles not only democratic and fair but the only principles which will produce the most efficient type of I. L. This mass of interrelated words virtually compel their selection. As said Couturat, "the establishment of an international vocabulary certainly is not a matter of personal inspiration, fantasy or arbitrary selection (as in Esp.) but a work of science... of patience. The roots selected come not from a search for the original etymological form of root, which is known chiefly to scholars, and produces but a theoretical internationality, but by extracting a common, medium form from the words as they appear in the living languages. Using these extracted stems to express one unvarying basic meaning we build up the various grammatical forms of the idea, verb, substantive, adjective, by the addition of affixes which in turn carry but one constant meaning and always qualify a root in the same way.

Because of phonetic changes, the spelling of these common roots often varies considerably from language to language. It is therefore essential to find by comparison some common form which is most international and at the same time fits into the phonetics of the language. A search for an absolutely natural spelling for the vocabulary of the I. L. is absurd and chimerical. Almost invariably some small differences are found in the spelling of the same root word in the different languages, therefore whatever form that may be adopted will seem somewhat strange and distorted to some linguistic groups. The only common-sense procedure is to adopt some medium form which is easy to recognize and use, by reason of its internationality and euphony, by the majority of peoples.(11) Because Ido does not adopt whole words but simply stems expressing a primary idea and builds up thereon, by means of affixes, the various verb and substantive forms, it is almost always possible to find some form of stem which is common to several languages either as expressing the primary idea in direct way or expressing it in some commonly known derivative words. These "derivative", or subsidiary forms of international roots are especially characteristic of the English, which has a foundation of Anglo-Saxon with a superstructure of "derivative" words from the Latin or Romance group. What may be termed the "primary" word in the English may have come from the Anglo-Saxon, but the "subsidiary" words for the same idea have almost always come into the language from the Latin group. For instance: L.: mori; I.: morire; S.: morir; P.: morrer; F.: mourir; D.: sterben; E.: to die, may be termed "primary" words wherein the LISPF languages have a certain amount of agreement as to spelling, so that one might suppose at first sight that the most international form expressive of this idea should be mor-, following the majority languages. Such, however, is not the case. All these languages inclusive of the English and German contain subsidiary, derivative words wherein the root mort- is found.(12) Take the idea of "brother", the German form for which is "bruder". Because the English and Germanic races together exceed in numbers any other related linguistic group, it might at first seem probable that the best form for this idea would be some recognizable spelling of the two English and German words, but further investigation shows the root frat-,(13) found in DEFISP, is more international and suitable to express the idea. The same occurs when the E.: hundred and the D.: hundert are found to be less international than the root cent(14) is DEFIRS. Of course, this substitution of mort-ar for "to die" and frat-(ul)o: for "brother" may seem at first sight to the English and Germans as forms difficult to recognize and use, much more so than they appear to the Latin races. Yet when one stops to consider the English and German subsidiary words for this idea, we see that the secondary forms are obligatory. It is a necessary presupposition in such selection that each individual is thoroughly acquainted with his own language. Individual slowness of comprehension on the part of the English speaker that his language contains such a root as mort- in mortuary, etc. expressive of the idea of dying cannot be taken into consideration in selecting the roots. This interrelation or interpenetration of certain roots into many languages, whether in the form of primary or secondary signification, is the fundamental factor making for facility. It is only of late years that the extent and significance of this common group of stems as the only proper basis for the vocabulary of an I. L. has met with clear recognition.

Because Ido takes as its basis of internationality, not the languages as units as did Idiom-Neutral, but the number of individuals using the different languages, it is desirable to know what importance each language has as an independent group. The following statistics are taken from 'The World Almanac', 1921 edition:

The English is spoken by more than 150,000,000 of people; German do: 120,000,000; Russian do: 90,000,000. In the ROMANCE GROUP: The French do: 60,000,000; Spanish do : 55,000,000; Italian do. 40,000,000; Portuguese do: 30,000,000

Total of Romance group: 185,000,000; Total of English and German: 270,000,000; Total of Romance and English: 335,000,000 of people.

As can be seen from the above, the English occupies a strategic position. Where the English has a word common to the Romance group (and four-fifths of our borrowed words have a Latin or Romance-group origin), it becomes a predominant factor.

In the same publication, Mr. F. H. Vizetelly, Managing Editor of the 'Standard Dictionary', gives a table showing an analysis by origin of approximately 20,000 words found in the 4th edition of the Skeat 'English Dictionary'. From this table the following facts are taken:


Total of words derived from the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic languages: 5040 (25 %)

Total of words derived from the French: 6782

do. Latin direct 2880

do. Italian 99

do. Spanish and Port. 129

do. Greek direct or through Latin or French 2493

12383 (61 %)


It is to be noted that these statistics are based on a vocabulary of common words. If the larger vocabularies were analyzed, which contain the more scientific and technical terms that are largely of Latin would be about 70 or 75 % for the whole vocabulary. Again, it should be remembered that this table gives the origin of words not their existing relations to other languages. A word may have come to us, for example, direct from the Latin but the French may have independently derived the same or a similar word and therefore considered relatively the word is common to the English and the French. The Anglo-Saxon and Germanic part of English (25 % by the table), though not as large in proportion as that derived from the Romance group or the Latin, is yet very important in that it comprises many words in common use, especially connective words found in almost every sentence. Whewell said (as quoted by Trench), "It would be just if we were to say that the English language is a conglomerate of Latin words bound together by Saxon cement." As shown in the first table, the total of English and German is 270 millions, which is greater than the total of the Romance group (185 millions). It might therefore seem likely that a goodly proportion of the root words of the I. L. would, by reason of the number of words common to the English and German, have to be adopted from the words peculiar to these two languages. There are two main reasons which prevent this: (1) The difficulty of finding some medium forms for words between the German and the English which would be easily recognizable (and pronounceable) by both peoples. The phonetic development of the early Saxon words has divergent in the two languages as to create practically two different words from the original Saxon. The Saxon "toth" has become "tooth" in English and "Zahn" in German; the Anglo-Saxon "waeter" has developed into "water" and "Wasser"; Anglo-Saxon "specan" into "speak" and "sprechen": Anglo-Saxon "sape" into "soap" and "Seife"; the Anglo-Saxon "wucu" is now "week" and "Woche"; the Anglo-Saxon "genoh" is now "enough" and "genug". (2) The fact that because English is composed by a fusion of languages there often exists in English two words, one from a Saxon or Germanic source, the other from a Latin or Romance source expressive of the same idea (ex.: yearly, annual; begin, commence; work, travel; sheep, mutton, etc.). Also there exist a very large number of instances where the Germanic source has provided us with one word expressive of a primary idea which is paralleled by several words expressive of the same idea in a subsidiary form derived from the Romance or Latin. "To die", for instance, comes from the ancient Scandinavian "dien", and stands isolated in our language with many subsidiary words derived from Latin root mort.

The largest group of words adopted into the English came direct from the early French. The fact also that a majority of the English words, though originally derived direct from the Latin, Greek, etc. have also been adopted by the French, besides the fact that the English and French orthographies are not so divergent as to prevent adoption of a common recognizable form, tends the French words powerfully influential when it comes to adopting international roots for an I. L.. The French and English together outnumber the rest of the Romance group. Again French has a large proportion of words which are common to the other members of the Romance group, which makes possible the adoption, of a French root in cases where no common form exists between the English and German, or the English and Romance group. Standing as it does midway in the development between the Latin and the English, the French occupies a peculiarly advantageous position.

In this connection it should be noted that it is very often impossible to adopt English words in their purity because of the chaotic condition of the English spelling and pronunciation. We have in English not five vowel sounds as in the Spanish and Italian, but thirty and each of these vowel sounds is spelled in a multitude of different ways. Many of these various sounds are difficult to peoples whose languages have a close correspondence between the spelling and pronunciation. It is a demand of common sense that the I. L. should have a phonetic system easy to all peoples. We cannot admit unusual sounds or difficult combinations of consonants and vowels. The literal transcription of many of the special sounds of the English words would result in such distortion of the original spelling as to render the text unintelligible at sight to the English and burden the foreigner without corresponding advantage. For example, the word "die" would be pronounced according to the method of the ordinary continental pronunciation dee-ay and thus pronounced would be unintelligible to the English speaker; if spelled as pronounced in English it would have to be written dai which form no Englishman would recognize at sight. The word "brother" is unpronounceable by most Europeans because of the presence of the "th" sound, to say nothing of the fact that the "o" as pronounced in the English has the value of "u". Zamenhof adopted for Esp. several words from the English literally copying our spelling without thought of the resulting pronunciation. For instance, Esp. has boat-o and bird-o, pronounced bo-ah-to, beardo. The English do not recognize their own words if thus pronounced and all other peoples do not recognize them by sight. Take the word "beauty": this is in German Schönheit; in F.: beauté, in I.: bellezza; in S.: belleza. Here the English and French have a similar form which seems more international than the others. Yet the pronunciations of the English and French differ considerably and the vowel combination "eau" is a difficult one and could only be pronounced by separating the "e" from the "au" which would make it strange to both the English and the French. Ido (and Esp.) has adopted the root bel- as the best form to express this idea, it being DEFIS (found in the English word embellish, belle) and easily pronounceable. The fact that this root is immediately recognizable by the Romance group and only indirectly by the English and Germans results from the linguistic facts, not any theoretical ideas as to portioning out words among the different languages. Taking the linguistic facts as they exist, any a posteriori form of I. L. is bound to be easier for some peoples than for others. It must have a compromise vocabulary, resulting from the fact that the mass of international roots are unevenly distributed. We have seen that the method of "equal difficulty" is impossible of realization. The method of "greatest internationality", while lacking in theoretical neutrality, is the sole guarantee we can have of practical neutrality, efficiency and facility.

The following statistics, based on the original roots selected for Ido, demonstrate the high degree of internationality:

2024 roots, or 38 % belong to 6 languages

942 ... 17% ... 5

1111 ... 21% ... 4

585 ... 11% ... 3

454 ... 8% ... 2

255 ... 5% ... 1

Total 5371 100%


This table shows that a majority of the stems are common to 6, 5 or 4 languages, therefore, the stability and finality of the Ido vocabulary is proven. It is extremely improbable that other roots of a greater internationality could be found.(15)

A somewhat different method was employed by Professor Couturat in counting the same roots: He found that of these the following numbers occur in the international languages:


French 4880 i. e. 91%

Italian 4454 ... 83%

Spanish 4237 ... 79%

English 4219 ... 79%

German 3302 ... 61%

Russian 2821 ... 52%

How many words are necessary in an I. L.?

No exact number can of course be given. Close consideration of significations and experience in use can alone determine just how large a vocabulary is needed. As far as the requirements of logic go, it is obvious that no words should be admitted which are precisely synonymous with one another, though it would be entirely practicable for the purposes of diction and euphony to permit such words. At any rate, we should possess a vocabulary sufficient for the precise and clear expression of all ideas which the requirements of our ordinary life and the exact sciences make it desirable to distinguish. Legal papers, conventional agreements, our sciences, and our technical processes demand a clarity and exactness of expression for which only a rich vocabulary, wherein the significations of the words are clearly defined, can suffice. It should also be possible to accurately express the numerous concepts and shades of thought which arise from the infinite diversity of our sentiments and other psychical phenomena: repentence, remorse, penitence; courage, audacity, temerity; proud, haughty; affirm, assert, etc.(16) Metaphorical use of technical and common words must be permitted, as is done in all languages, as long as the figurative uses do not logically conflict with the basic ideas expressed by the roots.(17)

The adoption in Ido of the principle of unasenceso: one word, one meaning, which applies not only to the roots but to the affixes, marks a great advance in precision of expression over what has heretofore been attempted. Also the fact that the use of affixes in Ido is not restricted to certain dictional uses in their combinations, as is the case with affixes in our languages, constitutes a powerful instrument for exact expression. The words of our natural languages, especially verbs and noun-forms in common use where they are applied in a multitude of different senses according to the idiomatic use of the word in a phrase, are very often largely ambiguous in significations when considered by themselves, i.e. the same word carries different senses according to the other words used in connection with it.(18) For example, yesterday, I had occasion to note the different idiomatic uses of the verb: to take. I found more than twenty-five possible meanings for this verb in my dictionaries, differing according as the word may be used, some of them so extremely idiomatic as to depart entirely from the primary signification. Now in an I. L. ambiguity of meaning is entirely inadmissible. The words and phrases must be unmistakable in meaning because they must be understood by peoples of widely differing linguistic traditions. We may excuse or overlook ambiguity in natural languages, but not in the I. L. Except in simple phrases, a mere word for word translation would be utterly unintelligible to the foreigner. What we have to do in the I. L. is to translate the thought, not the mere words without consideration as to the meanings. In primitive Esp. where there were available only a few hundred roots of widely differing significations, it was not necessary to closely define the meaning of each root, but with the adoption of many roots, many of them closely synonymous in meaning, such as has been done in Ido (and many of the neologisms of Esp.) it has slowly become evident that if the words are to be easily and properly understood by all nationalities, the significations must be made unmistakable by definitions, examples of use, and explanations of synonyms. Because a certain root is found in several languages that does not always imply that the root is always and everywhere used in the same manner, the same signification. The I. L. is essentially a "book language", i.e. that it is language only for occasional use by the ordinary person who must depend largely for his phraseology upon his dictionaries, therefore, the dictionaries must make intelligible the proper use of each word. The work of the Idist Academy and the discussions as to significations which have appeared in the pages of PROGRESO have done much to this end and it will be the work of the future to bring ever greater exactitude into the significations of all words. This point is very important and can only be properly appreciated by those who have undertaken lexicographical work or done considerable translation of difficult matter. Experience shows that by reducing our thought to its simplest terms, a small vocabulary can be made to suffice for the expression of ordinary thought, but an I. L. which will meet in all points the demands of our intricate social legal, technical and scientific life must be richer than any of our living languages and the words must carry such precision of meaning as to be intelligible to all peoples without shadow of ambiguity.

Ido, in its present state of development is composed of over 9,000 root words which with the appropriate affixes is about equivalent to a 60 to 80 thousand word English dictionary, or, in the French, practically covers the well known Petit Larousse dictionary. Doubtless many words, especially in the scientific and technical domains, are yet needed, but for the ordinary expression of thought it is fairly complete.





1 - Prof. E. Monseur, who is an advocate of neither Esp. nor Ido. wrote (Discussiones, Feb, 1910): "Le système de l'adjectif en esperanto est outrageusement simpliste."

2 - It is impossible for Esp. to get over this difficulty by writing the phrase: tamen ghi estas instruanta kaj ech tre instruanta. Such translation does not exactly express the sense because -oza is a much stronger expression than -anta, and -iva also presents another shade of meaning. Furthermore, the participle form -anta cannot be used to express this idea because -anta denotes a present fact and does not denote a constant quality. An instrukt-anta libro an instructing book, cannot be "instructing" if no one is reading it. I am indebted for the above example to the 'Bulletin Francais-Ido' p.66.

3 - Imit-uro: imitation, is not the act (imito) but the result of the act; signat-uro is the signature, the result of the act (signat-o); pikt-uro is the picture itself, not the act of making the picture; apert-uro an aperture, distinguished from the act of opening (aperto); abort-uro is the abortive object, not the act.

4 - Ex.. sponj-atra: spongelike; metal-atra: metallike.

5 - Carthage destrukt-enda: Carthage must be destroyed certainly differs in meaning from Carthage destrukt-inda, Carthage is worthy of destruction - the first denotes an intention, the second an opinion. Kred-enda: must be believed, is different from the idea contained in kred-inda: worthy of belief, for ex. in a creed.

6 - Redakti, redaktoro, redakcio. Iniciati, iniciatoro, iniciativo.

7 - In Esp. the affix -o denotes fundamentally simply a substantive, something existing, and the affix -ulo a person (male or female) characterized by a certain quality. By convention these terminations are understood to refer mainly to the male sex. In ldo, we have -o (when standing for a person) denoting either male or female, -ulo is the regular masculine termination and -ino the feminine. "Esp.", as one eminent writer put it, "is a language of one declension and one sex", an apotheosis of feminism!

8 - During the past five years, the writer has done a large amount of Ido lexicographical work. I have found the Ido system of derivation entirely efficient and sufficient in every respect. Nothing more is needed, nothing less would do.

9 - Among the numerous sophistical arguments given by Kotzin in his, 'Historio kaj teorio de Ido' p. 93 is one which assert that if we conformed to Jespersen's principle of selection- "the best language is that which is easiest for the greatest number of people", we should have to accept the English... because that language is spoken by the greatest number of people and because, for the English, the English vocabulary is certainly the easiest, therefore, logically Ido should simply "borrow" the English vocabulary."

We answer (1) that if English happened to be a language easy of acquirement by the foreigner, instead of being one of the most difficult (2) that if the English vocabulary was of an independent, distinctive character, unrelated to the other European languages, like the Russian, instead of being an amalgamated language derived from European sources related in almost very word to some European tongue, then Kotzin's argument would have some force. Ido has adopted thousands of roots found in the English, not because they are English alone but because they are roots common to the English and other languages -- have an internationality of several languages, of which the English is but one.

10 - From the individual point of view, that type of I. L. is best which most closely resembles his native tongue and is therefore easiest to him personally. But the desires of one individual must be limited by the wishes and rights of others. Under existing facts, therefore, any form of I. L. is a compromize, a medium type, easiest for the body of individuals.

11 - Take the following root as an example: L.: communicare; F.: communiquer; I.: comunicare; S.: comunicar; E.: commnicate. Which form is "natural"? Ido adopted the form komunik-(ar) which does not exactly agree in spelling with any "natural" form, yet it is an easily recognizable form consonant with the spirit of all.

12 - In English, we have the derivative words: mortal, mortality, mortuary, immortal; German has, Mortalität.

13 - As in our English word: fraternal; German; fraternisieren.

14 - As found in centenary, centennial, and the metric notations. Another good example is the E.: son; D.: Sohn, which not as international as the root form; fili- (as found in filial).

15 - AIl such tables are, however, misleading in a small degree in that they do not show the degree of facility for each language, i.e. each of the 2024 roots common to the six languages are every case equally easy of apprehension by the individual linguistic group, because in some languages a particular stem may be found only indirectly in subsidiary words; bel-, for example, being immediately understood by peoples of the Romance group, and only indirectly at sight by the English because bel- is only found in such "secondary" words as "belle" and "embellish", the word "beauty" or its derivatives being the usual one for this conception. To attain a high degree of mathematical exactitude, roots would have to be classified in each language by some sign denoting the degree of facility, i.e. whether they are usual or unusual, the ordinary or non-ordinary forms of expression for the primary ideas.

16 - In Ido: repento, remorso, penitenco; kurajo, audaco, temerareso; fiera, superba; afirmar, asertar.

17 - Such words as konceptar (to conceive) may be used in both the physical and mental senses because there is a logical relation between the two uses and furthermore such double sense is supported by internationality. Again, the use of kanon-o in the sense of weapon and ecclesiastical use is permissive, because the root is international in both meanings, though there exists no logical relation.

18 - The English is especially "rich" in these ambiguous meanings. The French, though by no means lacking in idiomatic uses of words is, in comparison with the English, more precise and clear.




Pages 1 to 24

Pages 24 to 54

Pages 54 to 74
Pages 74 to 85

Pages 86 to 101

Pages 101 to 121

Pages 121 to 139

Pages 140 to the end


The International Language IDO - Reformed Esperanto