The Main Advantages of Ido

[English translation of a leaflet in Esperanto distributed by the International Language (Ido) Society of Great Britain (ILSGB). The original Esperanto version is HERE. Footnotes in brackets. The Esperanto accents are represented by a following ^, or ~ for the u accent.]

The general public, through insufficient knowledge, has a prejudice against a constructed international language. Similarly many Esperantists have very little knowledge about Ido in spite of the fact that it is a more developed form of Esperanto. This comparative study covers the main advantages of Ido as an international language.

Before Esperanto, the most widely used artificial language was Volapük. It was neutral and easier than national languages, but it wasn't sufficiently good. Zamenhof rightly did not accept it and announced his own language. Even Esperanto, nevertheless, which is much better than Volapük, has serious disadvantages which harm its general acceptability. We should offer the world the best solution in the form of a language developed not just theoretically but also in practice in the light of experience.

After a few years of experience of his Esperanto, Zamenhof saw that it is more complicated and difficult than is necessary or desirable. Nevertheless all the proposals (good and bad) for reform were considered together, and the Esperantists at that time voted against the reforms. After this occasion, Zamenhof was afraid to make changes although still proposed some more reforms.

Ido is the result of the work of many linguists and scientists, among them many Esperantists. Worthy of special mention are Louis de Beaufront and professors Louis Couturat, Otto Jespersen and Wilhelm Ostwald. Literature in Ido is both original and translated. Poems in Ido are worth mentioning, and the poetic qualities of the language attract attention (1).

Here we consider the chief advantages of Ido, and invite you to study them objectively.

ACCENTS in Esperanto cause difficulties not only in printing but nowadays on computers, since the vast majority of computer programs don't recognise the special letters (2). Alphabetical ordering is an even more difficult problem. Ido does not have these problems because it uses the basic internationally known alphabet (also q, w, x, y), without any accents.

In Ido c^ becomes ch, s^ becomes sh, g^ and j^ both become j (the distinction between g^ and j^ is unknown in many languages), j as semi-consonant before a vowel becomes y, u~ after a vowel becomes u; u~ as semi-consonant (as at the start of a word) becomes w. The letter and sound h^ are not used because this consonant is difficult to pronounce for many peoples.

The letter q is used only before u to conserve the form of some international words; for example aquo (akvo), quanta (kiom da), quanto (kvanto), Quakero, quar (kvar). The letter x replaces ks and kz; for example exter (ekster), exemplo (ekzemplo), maximumo (maksimumo).

ADJECTIVAL ACCORD is a wholly unnecessary complication. It does not exist in many important national languages, and should not exist in an international language. In very rare cases it can be useful, but one can easily and clearly express in some other way the desired meaning. One defence of this complication is that it makes the learning of Esperanto a good introduction to language studies (3) - supposedly precisely because it makes the language more difficult! Zamenhof himself acknowledged that adjectival accord is superfluous (4).

The ACCUSATIVE and other uses of the ending -n is a remarkable complication in Esperanto. No separate forms for the accusative exist in English, Chinese, Danish, French, Spanish, Italian, Malay, Norwegian, Portuguese or Swedish (and perhaps also others). Even German, Latin and Russian do not have separate accusative forms for many nouns; for example German feminine, neuter and plural nouns. These languages use instead a normal word order, as in fact also does Esperanto, for example in phrases like "glacio farig^as akvo".

Strangely, words and forms for number, such as "multe da sablo" and "kiom da homoj" do not take the accusative -n ending in Esperanto, despite the supposed necessity of this indication!

To further complicate the task of the learner, there are other idiomatic uses of the ending -n than the accusative, for example in "iri Parizon", "la duan fojon", "tagon post tago", "unu matenon" etc. So the ending -n is used in Esperanto not only for the accusative, but also in different idioms, although it should not be used for some accusative phrases! In Ido it is used only for the accusative and only when the word order is not normal (for example "homon mordas hundo").

STRESS in Esperanto is theoretically simple but, according to one very experienced Esperantist, "The correct stress on words ending in -io is difficult for beginners and is not international" (5). In Ido i or u and a following vowel form one syllable and, if this syllable is the last, naturally the previous syllable receives the stress; for example rádio, famílio, remédio, rezíduo.

PRONUNCIATION of Esperanto has other complications. One has to distinguish between ks and kz (one may correctly pronounce x in Ido as ks or gz without making a distinction), between g^ and j^ (both become j), and between h^ and k. Combinations of consonants is another difficulty: konscienco is koncienco in Ido; escitas - ecitas, punkto - punto; funkcio - funciono; scienco - cienco; scias - savas (savas - salvas); sciuro - skurelo; s^trumpo - kalzo; etc.

COUNTRY NAMES and other proper names don't need to end in -o, and in Ido they are more internationally recognisable. For example: Afrika, Amerika, Australia, Azia, Britania, Europa, Germania, Haiti, India, Kanada, Kuba, Peru, Portugal, Rusia. The unfortunate nature of the Esperanto country names has been acknowledged (6).

ROOTS. In contrast to completely invented languages Esperanto uses word-roots taken generally from the great European languages, so that the words are (for many peoples) recognisable and more easily learnt. Nevertheless, this good principle was applied incompletely and hazardously. Compare for example:

ardeo - heronoklinas - inklinas
au~ - okondukas - konduktas
bubalo - bufalokonversacias - konversas
celo - skopolimo - limito
ci - tumac^as - mastikas
c^elo - celulomendas - komendas
c^evalo - kavalomenso - mento
c^i tie - hikemetio - mestiero
c^iam - sempreorfo - orfano
c^io - omnopermesas - permisas
c^irkau~ - cirkumpentas - repentas
c^izas - cizelaspistako - pistacho
dau~ras - duraspis^to - pistono
dedic^as - dedikaspopolo - populo
dekoracias - dekoraspresas - imprimas
demandas - questionaspulvo - pulvero
difekto - defektorampas - reptas
difinas - definassalajro - salario
dungas - engajassavas - salvas
edzo - spozoscias - savas
ekspozicias - expozassperta - experta
elasta - elastikaspiras - respiras
eraro - eroros^uldas - debas
fartas - standastac^mento - detachmento
femuro - krurotau~ga - apta
gajnas - ganastavolo - strato
g^is - tiltegmento - tekto
grimpas - klimasternas - sternutas
haladzas - exhalasteruro - teroro
hontas - shamastitolo - titulo
intesto - intestinovarbas - rekrutas
iu ajn - irgavico - rango
kaj - evipuro - vipero
kiom da - quantavosto - kaudo

It is said that the changing of some words is necessary because of risk of confusion with affixes, but in that case why exist in Esperanto the words insulo, konsulo, kamero, sukero, debeto, redukti, respondi, defendi (despite fendi), delegi, disciplino, doktrino etc? They all start or finish with a syllable which could be misunderstood as an affix. Esperanto is wholly irregular and confusing in this. Some words are changed from the international forms, but others are not.

INFINITIVES in Ido have the ending -ar which is better known than -i because it comes from Spanish, Italian, Catalan and Portuguese.

PLURALS have the ending -i, known in Slavic languages and in Romanian and Italian. Both endings (-ar and -i) in Ido are already known to many millions of people.

WORDS FOR PEOPLE AND ANIMALS in Ido are nearly all non-specific as regards gender (as are many words in English and Russian). When necessary, one adds a suffix to indicate sex. The major advantage is that one does not have to give the impression that a person or animal is masculine when one in fact does not know, or when it can or may be either male or female.

In Ido the words aktoro, amiko, dentisto, flegisto, homo, kuzo, puero, spozo, abelo, bovo, elefanto, kato etc. are all gender-inspecific. When necessary or desired, one uses a male suffix or a female suffix. Concerning this method Zamenhof stated: "Considering this proposition, I find that it is not only very logical but also very oportune" (7).

Ido also has a very useful extra pronoun, lu, which does not indicate sex and so avoids the necessity to say repeatedly "he or she" or give false information by saying for example only "he" in a situation where it could also be "she".

THE PREFIX MAL- is used too much in Esperanto, so that many frequently used words are too long (and too repetetive). The prefix "mal-" is also unfortunate because its international meaning is "bad" (for example, "malfermas" might mean "shuts badly"). Ido has the more international prefix des- (from French, Spanish, Portuguese, etc.), as in the words desaprobas, desagreabla, desavantajo. There are also alternatives for the more frequently used antonyms:

malalta - basa
malfrua - tarda
malmultekosta - chipa
malamas - odias
malgaja - trista
malplej - minim
malamiko - enemiko
malgranda - mikra
malpli - min
malantau~ - dop
maljuna - olda
malrapida - lenta
malbela - leda
malkunigas - separas
malric^a - povra
malbona - mala
mallonga - kurta
malsupreniras - decensas
malebligas - preventas
malmola - harda
maltrankviligas - trublas
malfermas - apertas
malmulta - poka
malvarma - kolda

DERIVATION of words in Esperanto may be simple but in fact it is idiomatic and unclear. For example, "to brush" is brosi using a brush which is broso, but "to shoot" is pafi using a gun, pafilo; "to pilot" is piloti and "pilot" is piloto, but "to interpret" is interpreti with "interpreter" being interpretisto; a person who is seeing is vidanto, but a person who is blind is blindulo.

The more regular derivation system in Ido is more logical and comprehensible. For example, in Ido, one brosas using a brosilo and one pafas using a pafilo. In Ido a person seeing is vidanto and a blind person is blindo. The derivation system in Esperanto has its own internal logic, but for the learner it is confusing.

In Esperanto the suffix -ado in theory indicates a repeated or continuous action. Nevertheless in practice it can also have another meaning, since in some words it means only a simple act, as in the word "kronado". The element el- at the beginning of a word can be either the word el (Ido: ek) or the prefix el- (Ido: par); for example in eliras and eluzas (Ido: ekiras, paruzas).

THE AFFIX SYSTEM is a good feature of Esperanto and is more developed in Ido. For example the word redaktero is derived from redaktas by the suffix -er-; universala from universo by the suffix -al-, and similarly nacionala, naturala, sociala, mentala, finala; signaturo from signatas, pikturo from piktas by -ur-; konduktiva, instruktiva by -iv, etc. In one or two cases Ido affixes have finally been accepted in Esperanto, for example -end- (as in problemo solvenda, a problem to be solved).

IDIOMATIC, imprecise or "Volapükesque" words are replaced in Ido by more precise and international words. For example:

al(glu)ig^as - adheras
kontrau~(star)as - opozas
proprumas - proprietas
antau~nelonge - recente
lernejo - skolo
respondecas - responsas
direkte al - vers
neas - negas
senkulpigas - exkuzas
enkalkulas - egardas
nombras - kontas
vers^ajna - probabla
estonteco - futuro
okupigas - employas
voc^donas - votas

PRONOUNS and NUMBER-WORDS in Ido are more clearly distinguished, especially on the telephone. For example me and ni are clearer than mi and ni; sis and sep are clearer than ses and sep.

THE CORRELATIVE WORDS in Esperanto are also very similar in sound (kial, kiel, kie, etc). In Ido the words are more different.

WITH THE INFINITIVE in Ido one more logically uses adjectives, not adverbs, because the infinitive is a verb-form with the character of a noun (8). Use of adverbs here is a Slavic idiom, or misunderstanding (9). For the same reason, one can in Ido freely and without hesitation use a preposition before an infinitive; for example sen vidar, ante parolar.

WORDS WITH MORE THAN ONE MEANING, and whose meanings are in doubt, are replaced in Ido by words with one meaning to avoid misunderstanding or lack of clarity:

antau~ - ante (before in time); avan (before in space)
atendi - vartar (D warten, E to wait for, F attendre); expektar (D erwarten, E to expect, F s'attendre à)
devas - devas (morally); mustas (of necessity)
de - de (D von, aus E from, F de, depuis); di (D von, E of, F de); da (D von, durch, E by, F par)
eble - forsan (D vielleicht, E perhaps); posible (D möglich, E possibly)
el - ek- (to the outside); par- (fully)
kiel - kom (as); quale (in the manner of)
post - pos (after in time); dop (after in space)
povas - povas (have the capability); darfas (have the right or permission)

Lernar lingui nacionala esas tasko lenta e desfacila.
Lerni lingvojn naciajn estas tasko malrapida kaj malfacila.
Toleremi sempre esas pronta konsiderar altra vidpunti.
Toleremuloj c^iam estas pretaj konsideri aliajn vidpunktojn.
Un matino la puerino vidis kati chasanta plura mikra rati.
Unu matenon la knabino vidis katojn c^asantajn plurajn malgrandajn ratojn.
Ido semblas a me la maxim praktikala de la lingui artificala.*
Ido s^ajnas al mi la plej praktika de la lingvojn artefaritaj.
(* Dr. Melvil Dewey, author of the decimal library classification).
Se vu deziras havar plu multa informi, ni esos felica recevar vua letro.
Se vi deziras havi pli multajn informojn, ni estos felic^aj ricevi vian leteron.

Information on books and representatives for Ido may be found in the Esperanto version, HERE.

1. For example the work by Andreas Juste: `La Serchado', `Vitra Perli', etc.
2. This text has caused enough problems! [Relates to the original Esperanto leaflet, in which the special characters WERE successfully reproduced!]
3. D. B. Gregor, La Fontoj de Esperanto (reprint), p.5
4. For example in La Esperantisto, 1892, no. 57 (see the Originalan Verkaron).
5. M. C. Butler in The British Esperantist, June 1951, p.77-78
6. Gaston Waringhien, Lingvo kaj Vivo (1959), p.187-188
7. La Esperantisto, March 1894.
8. Article by R. Linse in Scienca Revuo, Vol. 12, nos. 1-2, p.45-47.
9. See clarification in `Kelka remarki pri la rusa linguo' by N. Yushmanov (Progreso no. 71, reprinted in Ido-Vivo, 2/89, p. 21-23).

More information is available from the representatives in many countries and from:

44 Woodville Road, Cathays,
Cardiff CF2 4EB, Great Britain.

[4th edition, 2/94]

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