The vocabulary of Esp. results from what may be termed "empirical selection". That is, personal preference of Dr. Zamenhof or his individual followers.

The Ido vocabulary is the result of a study of the linguistic facts in regard to each word proposed for selection. The Ido Academy has been constantly at work since 1908 (except for the period when the hostilities prevented international communication) and is still at work. The selection of each new word is put to the vote of the members of the Academy which are selected from different linguistic groups and is only officially adopted when it has received the approval of the majority of the members. The needs of the ordinary vocabulary were considered to have been fully met by the studies up to 1914. However, at the time of the outbreak of hostilities there were several hundred scientific and technical terms that had been proposed in the pages of PROGRESO that had not as yet been put to official vote. As the French, and German, Ido vocabularies were printed during the war, these technical and scientific terms had to be marked as unofficial words. Upon the resumption of the work of the Academy after the close of hostilities these words were voted upon and officialized.

As has been stated, the Lingva Komitato of the Espists is not primarily intended to be a body of scholars whose aim is to perfect the language, correct its errors, supply its deficiencies, as is the case with the Idist Academy, but its purpose is rather to watch over the "purity" of the language, to see that the "spirit" of the original language of Zamenhof as exposed in the Fundamento is not infringed upon. During its history it has officialized the adoption of several hundreds of new words in addition to those found in the Fundamento by two "Aldoni".(1)

Zamenhof at first attempting merely a code language had but 925 root words in his vocabulary, inclusive of his affixes which are in some cases used as separate root words.(2) Part of this original Fundamento was invented outright from Zamenhof's "inner consciousness", especially the 45 particles which enter into the composition of almost every sentence and are therefore particularly burdensome. The vocabulary, as a whole, was selected from French, German, Slavic and English roots largely by the personal predilections of the author. Especially because many of the roots were taken from the French, a considerable degree of internationality was attained though "maximum internationality" as a principle of selection was never clearly formulated. (3)

The final form of the Fundamento contains 2825 root words, out of which, according to de Beaufront who is a philologist of repute, no less than 1055 are lacking in internationality, either by improper selection of the root itself, or by distortion of the most international form of the root word. This is no reflection upon Zamenhof as a man of limited linguistic knowledge working alone at a time when the full import of the necessity of securing maximum internationality was not clearly recognized. His work marked an important advance upon what had heretofore been done. His error consisted in permitting the "petrifying" of the defects of his language and making them a sacred tradition to be preserved. Esperanto claims to be a "living language" subject to accretion only by a "natural" growth of vocabulary. Just as Zamenhof, conscious of the inability of his original 925 root words to properly express thought gradually enlarged his vocabulary, so also his followers, feeling the poverty of the vocabulary of the Fundamento even in its final form to exactly and clearly express their thought, kept on and keep on introducing new words into their translations, "neologisms", according to their knowledge and need. If the user of a new word is a "best author", therefore worthy of trust, or some word obtains currency by wide use, this neologism may in time receive the official blessing of the Lingva Komitato and thus become authorized. The Esp. vocabularies as they stand at present are therefore the result of the cogitations of Zamenhof and the individual selection and use of his followers. It cannot help being rather chaotic. While loudly acclaiming the possibility and desirability of expressing all thought by means of the original vocabulary of the Fundamento, actual practice shows that there is hardly an Esp. translation of length which does not contain some words not to be found in the official vocabularies. Editors of the Esp. dictionaries incorporate hundreds, even several thousands of new words selected from "best authors" or from their own judgment as to the necessity, in addition to the official vocabulary. As a consequence, no two of the larger vocabularies exactly agree, so far as I can ascertain. Most of the later Esp. roots selected are international and appear to be taken from the Idist vocabulary. As one Esp. writer so happily put it: "The Idist bee does the work and the Espists gather the honey" (without acknowledgment of the source).(4) In order to how far the vaunted economy and sufficiency of the final Zamenhofan roots suffices, I have made a count of the root words under the letter "A" in the Millidge 'Esp. English Dictionary'. In favor of this dictionary is the fact that it marks a distinction between roots that have official sanction and those which are neologisms. I find by rough count that 256 root words are marked as official, and that 314 root words under this letter are unofficial. The present Ido vocabulary shows 776 root words under this letter, roots which are not the result of individual choice, but the careful selection resulting from the combined study of several competent linguists. On the basis of the official vocabulary, Ido has therefore 52 more officialized words than Esp in "A". As a consequence of permitting Esp. authors to introduce neologisms into their text, neologisms which perhaps are not to be found in any Esp. vocabulary, one is often in doubt as to the meaning of a particular phrase. A translation where one has to guess at the meaning of words is no proper translation. In the case of rare scientific words such unauthorized use is admissible in the present state of development of the vocabularies of either Ido or Esp. because, for the most part, scientific terminology is international, but such is not the case in regard to words of every-day use -- here official words are alone permissible.

It is to be remembered that in Esp., owing to the inviolability of the Fundamento, all changes are by way of augment, not correction of past errors. The errors being embalmed for eternity in the amber of the Boulogne resolution. The root ment-, for example, must continue to be used to represent the botanical word mint and never used for its proper international sense, that of mind mental. Such "natural evolution" finds its parallel in the "natural evolution" of a "living tongue", but it is not the scientifically controlled evolution which one has a right to expect in the I. L., nor is it the method of common sense. So far as a vocabulary is arbitrary and inefficient, so far it is a matter for suspicion and investigation in any form of I. L.

It is of course impossible in a paper of this character to go into a detailed examination of every word in the Esp. vocabulary which needs correction. I will, however, list 155 official roots which exemplify in a striking manner the arbitrary character of so many Zamenhofan words. These added to the 45 a priori formed table of correlative words, make a total of 200 words of undoubted lack of internationality:(5)

ajn, des, edz, el, chel, ci, cir, fart, fortik, fulg, fulm, graci, gros, gurd, ghis, haladz, ju, ken, kler, kroch, krisp, lad, lau, lert, lim, lien, lut, mac, nepr, okaz, ol, orf, pasht, pat, pav, pekt, penik, pisht, plej, polur, prav, pulm, punt, pup, sag, sap, shat, shir, skadr, shlos, sorb, spert, spez, sprit, spron, shpruc stip, tachment, tavol, tegment, tern, traf, trik, trud, tuj, turt, vant, vigl, vic. (69)

brog, buk, burd, chan, dung, elast, cerb, cherk, fand, fraul, gren, imag, kard, kluz, kon, krad, kraken, kren, kubut, kukurb, kup, lea, libel, log, lojt, mirh, mustel, osced, pelt, prujn, put, sakr, sark, seke, sonor, sorik, sorp, farun, stabl, teg, varb, vert, vesht, viburn, vost, bet, blek, blov, boj, bot, bram, buf, chap, char, chif, citr, chiz, distr, edif, erp, fit, frand, fring, jak, kahel, konval, koturn, kul, laks, tol, pent, pep, pere, petol, petromiz, plot, servut, sciur, sharp, skolop, sku, shlim, shtip, rab, testud, veruk.

To explain more clearly the Zamenhofan method (or psychology), let us look a little more closely into the origin of some of the above words:

ajn: ever. Origin, so far as can be ascertained, purely arbitrary.

des: the... the, so much the. Probably an arbitrary contraction of the D. "desto".

edz(o): married person. Origin unknown, (Ido has spozo (EFIS) as found in E. spouse, espousal.)

chel(o): cell (biol.). Internationality imposes the form celul- (as found in the E. cellular).

fart-(i): to be (in health, etc.) to do, fare; kiel vi fartas? = How do you do? This word, so shocking to English ears, was inspired by the English word "fare". Zamenhof, in order to avoid collision with another Esp. word: fari, to make, to do, simply elided the "e" from "fare" and replaced it by "t": far(e): fart. A striking example of "intuitive genius".

fulg-(o): (soot) and fulm-(o): lightning. Examples of arbitrary shortening of the international form of root: fuligin-, fulmin-. Such mutilation renders words unintelligible without reference to a dictionary.

ghis: till, until. A Zamenhofan conception of the proper spelling of the F. "jus". (Ido has taken til from the E. as the best available form for this preposition.)

haladz-(o): fume, exhalation. Chop off the initial ex- from exhalation change -lation to -ladz and we arrive at the incomprehensible haladz- of the Fundamento (Ido has exhal- which is EFIS.)

ken(o): resinous wood (In Ido: ligno rezin-oza). An arbitrary and unrecognizable form of the D. word Kienholz.

kroch-(i): to hook (on). Mutilated form of F.: accrocher.

lau: according to. Apparently an invented word. (Ido has segun ISP from the Latin secundum.)

boj-(i): to bark. Apparently a distorted and disguised form of the F.: aboyer.

shvit-(i): to sweat. From the D. schwitzen.

parkare: by heart. From the F.: par coeur.

char: because. From the F.: car (pronounced: kar).

lert-(a): clever. From the F.: alerte with a changed signification.

kler-(a): educated, cultured. Origin unknown.

nepre: without fail, absolutely. From the Russian nepremenno. This mutilation is like taking "abso" to represent the word absolute.

pulm-(o): lung. Mutilation of the international root; pulmon-(o): EFISPL.

punt-(o): lace. Origin unknown but possible a deformation of F. point (d'Alencon, etc.).

sag-(o): arrow. Probably from the Zodiacal word: Sagittarius, The Archer, or from the L: sagitta.

sap-(o): soap. Mutilation of international root: sapon. Moreover sap-(ar) is needed to express the idea of: to sap, to undermine.

shat-(i): to prize. One might suppose this word was a form of the German schatten: shade, shadow, but it is a mutilated form of the German: schätzen.

shr-(i): to tear, rend. Apparently taken from the F.: dechirer.

skadr-(o): squadron. This form of root is so obviously bad that Millidge introduces eskadron-o (probably taken from Ido) as another word to express this idea.


These examples might be extended indefinitely, but enough instances have been given to demonstrate the unscientific character of the Esp. vocabulary and the impossibility of scholars accepting it as it stands.

The ability to express logically related ideas by means of affixes, or new distinct ideas by combining two or more roots (as is especially characteristic of the German) is an invaluable quality both of Ido and Esp. But the subsidiary idea to be expressed should be clearly and logically intelligible by the combination of stem and affix, and the same may be said of new conceptions created by compounding roots. Esp., however, by its boasted economy in the use of roots (and affixes) goes to such an extreme in word building (in order to avoid the use of new roots) that the component parts of the combined word do not always make the intended meaning sufficiently clear. One has often to arrive at a signification by guessing or a sort of divining, which makes the language a very imperfect means of communication.(6) Instead of using an international root to express an idea, the attempt is made to build up the idea out of existing materials. Vapor-mashino as a composed word very well expresses the idea of steam engine and is in accord with natural practice. El-pens-ajo: lit.: something thought out, is used by the Espists to translate the idea of an invention and may be said to express the idea fairly well, though in a somewhat hazy manner, as "something thought out refers quite as well to a book, a sentence, a poem, as a concrete machine. But in such cases as this where there exists a separate word of wide internationality to the special idea there is no good reason for attempting to construct it in an artificial manner. The root invent- is EFIRS and should be adopted.(7) The Espists use parl-ado: lit.: continued talk, to translate the idea of (formal) discourse, which possibly might be considered sufficient as a makeshift did we not possess the international root: diskurs- which is DEFIS, therefore comprehensible at first sight and which expresses the idea more exactly.(8)

The world of science, especially, needs for the expression of its ideas a very precise and perfect form of I. L. and has consequently built up in all great cultural languages a technical terminology which is in great part international. The attempt, therefore, on the part of Espists to express scientific ideas by means of a few thousand common root-words constitutes a backward step not conformable to the existing state of the international terminology. To illustrate the poverty of Esp. scientific vocabulary, I give the following from an article by Prof. R. Lorentz, in the Volume 'I. L. and Science':

"For example, in Esperanto the beginning of the sentence. "A rotary transformer might be called a motor-generator, but the latter term is usually applied to machines with independent armatures", is translated in the following way: Turnighan alispecigilon oni provas nomi motoroproduktanto, which literally translated reads, "A self-turning otherwise-making-instrument can be called a motorproducer."

One Esp. author (Kotzin) in his polemic against Ido asserts that Esp. can translate the phrase as follows. "La rotacantan transformilon oni povas nomi motorgeneratoro." Now the translation given by Prof. Lorentz is the only authorized translation, if we use only those words out of the Esp. vocabulary which have received official sanction. But let us examine Kotzin's statement in the light of the latest standing:

Millidge 'Esp.-E. Dictionary'

The root rotac(i) not given, turn-igh-i alone appearing. However, another neologism appears: rotaci-i.

transform- not given (yet this stem is DEFIS).

generatoro not given.


Fulcher-Long 'English-Esp. Dict.'

Rotac-i not given. Has the authorized turn-ighi and the unauthorized rotaci-i.

Ali-igi, ali-form-i; and the unofficial word transform-i.

generatoro (unofficial word).


The above shows better than any argument the paucity of the Esp. scientific vocabulary and the arbitrary, chaotic introduction of new words.

The very extensive use in Esp. of the prefix mal- to express antonyms where international roots exist for these ideas is contrary to the spirit of all languages and is only appropriate in a simple code language. An antonym expresses an idea clearly distinct from its opposite, not merely a subsidiary form of the opposite conception, and where simple conceptions in common use are concerned it is easier to recognize and use some international form of the appropriate root. In Esp. we have such words as mal-bona, mal-richa, mal-forta, mal-alta, mal-granda, mal-pli, mal-supre, mal-antau, mal-fermi, mal-ami, etc., etc. Ido expresses these ideas through the international root forms: mala, povra, febla, basa, klozar, odiar, etc. The forms des-bona (the Esp. mal-bona), des-richa, des-forta, des-granda, etc. remain as authorized and regular forms in Ido, but they are almost never found. Obviously, Ido, with a richer system of affixes can make any combination that can be made in Esp. Of course, a constant use of mal- permits a small number of root words. We might designate the idea of summer by mal-vintro, and be understood, but such use is not desirable in a fully worked out language, fit for all uses. These constant forms require a sort of intellectual back somersault which is fatiguing and makes for clumsy diction that can be avoided by using the appropriate word. The Idists have substituted des- for the Esp. mal- to express the opposite of the idea carried by the root to which it is joined, because des- (found in English word ordinarily under the form dis- as in: dishonest, disarm, disadvantage, etc.) is a more international form for this affix. Mal- has as its sole support only four French words of which one: "malhonnête" has an exact synonym in "deshonnête". Mal- is properly used internationally in the sense of bad, evil, as we find it in the English word maladaptation, maladjustment, etc. and is used in this sense in Ido. Dis- is used in Ido as an affix signifying separation, as in English word "dissect".

In order that the reader may not think that unusual examples of the Esp. vocabulary are adduced and that he may judge fairly the nature of the differences between the Idist and Esp. vocabularies, I give below a translation in both languages of the first words found in the English:



aback dop-e (1) source: I mal-antauen

abacus abak-o sources: DEFIS none (2)

abandon abandon-ar DEFIS for-las-i (3)

abase abas-ar (fig.) (humil-igar) EFI humil-igi

abate (gen.) diminutar DEFIS (gen.) mal-pli-igi (4), (fin.) rabat-ar (fin.) rabat-i

abattoir buch-eyo, -erio buch-eyo

abbot abad-(ul)o (5), abato

abbreviate abreviar DEFIS mal-long-igi (6)

abdicate abdikar DEFIRS eks-regh-ighi (7), eks-ighi

abdomen abdomino (9) DEFIS ventro

abduct (a woman, etc.) for-rapt-ar; for-rabi (10) (anat., physiol.) abduktar

aberration (astron., opt.) aberaco none (11)

abhor abominar, hororar abomeni

ability kapabl-eso kapabl-o (12)

abject (morally mean) abjekta DEFIS mal-nobla (13)

abjure abjur-ar DEFIS for-jhuri (14)

ablative ablativo ablativo

ablution (rel. med.) ablucio, (washing) lavo DEFIS lav-(igh)i

abnegation abneg-o, -eso (from abneg-ar: to abnigate, deny oneself) DEFIS for-las-ado, ne-ig-ado (15)

abnormal ne-, des-norm-ala mal-norma

abode loj-eyo, habit-eyo logh-ejo

abolish abolisar DEFIS for-igi (16)

abominate abominar abomeni

aboriginal (original inhabitant) aborijen-a, -(ul)o; EFIS (native of country) indijen-(ul)o indighen-a, -o

abort abortar aborti



(1) The selection of the Italian word: dop for this conception is one of the very few words in Ido to which the writer objects. It is, however, far better than the Esp. mal-antauen which has no internationality and literally means: the opposite of front.

(2) Abako as a neologism appears in some Esp. vocabularies.

(3) Lit.: to let or leave away.

(4) Lit.: the opposite of to make more.

(5) Ido uses the Spanish and Port. spelling for this root: abad-o vice abat-o in order to avoid confusion with the root: abat-ar, -o: to fell, strike down.

(6) Lit.: the opposite of to make long.

(7) Lit.: to become an ex-ruler.

(8) Lit.: to become an "ex", "a former" - this is a translation given in the Rhodes' Eng.-Esp. Dictionary.

(9) Ido uses ventro for the vulgar use of "belly" and abdomino for scientific use.

(10) Lit.: to steal away.

(11) Aberacio as a neologism appears in some Esp. dictionaries.

(12) Ability represents an idea of quality, therefore it should logically be translated in Esp. by kapabl-eco, not kapabl-o (The Esp. suffix: -eco is equivalent to the Ido: -eso.)

(13) Lit.: the opposite of noble.

(14) Lit.: to swear away.

(15) Lit.: for-las-ado: leaving away; neigado, "making not" (taken from Rhodes). Some dictionaries have abnegacio as a neologism.

(16) Lit.: to make away.

Note: It has been asserted that Ido tends to "Frenchify" the I. L.. There is this amount of truth in the assertion: As pointed out on page 114, French, stands mid-stream in the philological evolution between the Latin and the English. It has therefore intimate relations not only with the other members of the Romance group but with the English which it has provided with the largest group of words common to the English and any other language. The French orthography is ordinarily better adapted for incorporation into the I. L. than the phonetic forms which are purely English. The English is chiefly important because of the greatness of the population that uses it. Therefore, the one great determining factor is the large group of words common to the French and the English which must be adopted into the I. L. not because of any preference or prejudice, but because of their internationality.

Secondly, the significations of the roots as they appear in Ido ordinarily follow the French, rather than the English, or any other language, in there basic significations. It is not meant that the uses of the words follows the French into all the idiomatic meanings, but that the fundamental significations ordinarily are those used by the French. For example, larja has the French sense of: wide, broad, not the English sense of: big; asistar has the French meaning: to be present at, attend; not the English sense: to help; etc., etc. This undoubtedly tends to facilitate the use of Ido by the French and permits the imputation of "Frenchifying" the language. While recognizing the fact that such consistent use of French and Romance definitions tends sometimes to grate upon the feelings of the English, such practice is, in my judgment, the best solution that can be found. By practically following the usage of one language (and that language the clearest and least ambiguous in expression in Europe), the language becomes one consistent whole, with less synonymous words overlapping in meanings. To take, for example, a French word and give it some meaning found in English or German could only result in a potpourri sort of language with its intolerable confusions. Furthermore, it is safe to assert that French significations are more widely understood in Europe than English significations of the same words, and it is Europe with its diversities in language where the I. L. is of the most use. It does not suffice merely to object to this method of selecting definitions, a better way should be pointed out, if the objections are to have force. In a highly evolved language, like Ido, with its many nearly synonymous words, only careful definitions can guide the student to the right use of the words. To take definitions indiscriminately from various sources must result in overlapping in meanings and confusion in use.




Enough evidence has been set forth to enable the student to judge the comparative character and merits of Ido and Esperanto. The Delegation Committee, after seven years of consideration, recommended the adoption of Esp. with the proviso of certain reforms. These reforms related to certain definite, precise, points, and have been carried out in detail in the course of the development of Ido. The following summary indicates the points of difference. If the student considers the reforms introduced into Esp. by the Idists to be unnecessary, there is nothing more to be said that can convert him - he belongs to the Esp. camp; if he considers the reforms necessary, he belongs to the Idist camp. There is no mistaking the issue:

(1) The Esp. alphabet has certain special letters peculiar to that language. The Idists use the Roman (or English) alphabet which is the alphabet of the majority of European peoples and is found in type stock throughout the whole of Europe.

(2) Esp. phonetics, especially in the multitude of its diphthongs, markedly resembles the Slavic or eastern European languages, rather than the phonetics of the "majority" nations of western Europe. Ido does away with the diphthongs: aj, ej, oj, uj, especially frequent as terminal sounds, and has a phonetic system which closely resembles the Spanish and Italian which is natural in aspect to a vast majority of Europeans and easy of pronunciation by all.

(3) Esp. has the compulsory forms of accord of adjectives with substantives, Ido has the same form of adjective for the accompaniment of singular and plural substantives, rejecting the plural form because it serves no logical purpose and seriously encumbers the practical use of the language.

(4) Esp. has the compulsory accusative forms for substantives, pronouns and adjectives. Ido rejects in great part these compulsory forms as a superfluous embarrassment, though retaining the use for distinction of case in pronominal forms and permitting (but not recommending) their use elsewhere.

(5) Esp. informs the student how to form verbs and nouns, but frequently furnishes no obvious clew as to the meaning of the words so formed; especially is this true of the substantives derived from verbs and verbs derived from substantives. Its adjectives lack precision in meaning. Ido, by the introduction of a few additional suffixes, makes the language logically coherent in meaning and uniform in derivation. New adjectival suffixes permit the just and exact expression of thought.

(6) Esp. because of the poverty of its authorized vocabulary constitutes a sort of "code" language, rather than a language sufficiently rich for the exact translation of thought in the scientific and literary domains. It contains a number of roots which are entirely a priori such as the 45 correlative words. Its word selection is arbitrary and lacking in internationality. It deforms and distorts into unrecognizability many of its root words. Because of the lack of words for the full and exact expression of thought, its writers and lexicographers have introduced by arbitrary selection a multitude of new words and as a result the later vocabularies are in a chaotic condition. Ido, following the principle of maximum internationality and facility, has, after careful study of each root by an authorized body of scholars, constructed a rich and sufficient vocabulary for all except the most technical use. It has substituted a posteriori for a priori words.

The need and justification for these changes are, so it seems to me, unmistakable and plain to any one who has not been blinded by subsidiary arguments introduced to confuse the issue or by practical considerations of propaganda. The arguments put forth to substantiate the necessity for these reforms are but the dictates of common sense, and any one who is willing to give unprejudiced and objective consideration to the facts of the problem can judge of their validity and decide the problem as a whole quite as well as the learned linguist. I have no wish to minimize the effects of the changes introduced by the Idists. Each and every reform is far reaching in its effect and to a very considerable degree changes the whole aspect and character of the language. Esp., as Professor Couturat said, forms a consistent, interlocking whole, which cannot be modified even in one point without changing very considerably the whole character of the language. The substitution of the Roman for the special alphabet, easy vowel forms for diphthongs, the cutting out of the accord of the adjective and the compulsory accusative forms, the introduction of new affixes, to say nothing of the many changes in the vocabulary, have far reaching effects in each and every case. Change it in one point, and there exists no reason for not changing it in all, as far as the textbooks and dictionaries are concerned.

Many people, recognizing the commonness of purpose of the two languages, urge the adherents of both sides to get together and compromise their differences. Such a recommendation, though admirable as an exhibition of good will, has nothing to commend it from the point of view of common sense. Even the introduction of the Roman in place of the special alphabet would not change fundamentally the whole aspect of Esp. but make all of the thousands of its textbooks and dictionaries out of date and largely useless besides upsetting its precious propaganda by introducing the poison of doubt as to its infallibility. Ido cannot give way on a single one of the six points above mentioned without lessening its efficiency in a material way. As a matter of fact, an I. L. is simply an instrument for the expression of thought, and while it is doubtless desirable and necessary to have discipline in the ranks and not to introduce any changes except those really necessary, in order to retain the support of a large body of adherents and not unnecessarily upset the continuity of its evolution, it remains in itself simply a machine to be improved upon until its most efficient form is attained. In ordinary life, when it is found that a machine can be improved on by the introduction of something new, the manufacturers do not attempt to "compromize" the necessary changes in order not to hurt the sensibilities of early inventors or users. Change Esp. in any material way, and you might as well change it in others. In fact, the opposition of many leading Espists to Ido is so violent and intense, as to make it probable in the event of a great public success of Ido, that they personally would support almost any type of I. L. which widely differed from Esp. and Ido, in order to prevent the official acceptance of scientific Esp., that is, of Ido. To recommend the change of Ido back into primitive Esp. in any one point, so as not to hurt the feelings of the Esp. quite so much, is on a par in logic with the advice to cut off the dog's tail by inches, instead of one close-up stroke. The great outside world, that now cares little or nothing for either language, will demand and finally get that type of I. L., which is most efficient, irrespective of any sentimental considerations.


Note: The uninformed reader may ask what are the arguments adduced by the Espists to combat the reforms. Esp. journals are usually entirely silent concerning the existence of Ido, although they sometimes refer to it under the name of Idiom-Neutral. Neutral never had any followers other than the few linguists interested in the construction of the language and has been completely out of date for a decade. When comment by Espists on Ido is attempted it is, according to my knowledge, simply a note on some isolated detail. The only long and detailed criticism of which I am aware is that of the 'Historio kaj Teorio de Ido', which appeared in 1913. The author is Kotzin, an editor of a Russian Esp. journal. Doubtless some of the arguments of Kotzin have weight with peoples of eastern European linguistic traditions. Esp. is essentially Slavic in construction, and to Russians, Poles, and the like the presence of the supersigned letters, the odd phonetics, and the lack of proper Romance roots, make the language seem as natural as it appears unnatural to peoples of western European culture, (and the Americas) who constitute a vast majority of the peoples. However, Kotzin's general method is that a clever lawyer who with a bad case, attempts to distract attention form the main facts by throwing a smoke screen by discussion upon subsidiary points. Prof. Couturat thus characterizes Kotzin's book: "This work pretends and seems to be a scientific study; but it is in reality only a cleverly disguised polemical work. The author has never seriously and impartially studied Ido. He has only read through with patient zeal the Idist books and journals in order to discover in them seeming contradictions and deceptive arguments." As Couturat states, most of the material facts found in this booklet have evidently been culled from the pages of the Idist journal PROGRESO. That journal, especially in the first years of its existence, opened its pages to the free discussion of all I. L. questions whether by Idists or not. Many writers took advantage of the opportunity to air their own particular linguistic ideas and prejudices. It is not to be expected that all men of diverse linguistic traditions will agree on all points. Kotzin by cleverly dovetailing all the contrary arguments he could find in these pages built up his book.

The student of the subject should not allow arguments on subsidiary points to confuse the issue between the Espists and the Idists. The points of difference, though far reaching in extent are but few. They have been summarized above. It is by the rightness or unrightness of these reforms alone, and no others, that the question must be decided.



The history of the I. L. shows Esp. winning out over the seemingly powerful Volapuk movement because of its greater efficiency. On a fair competitive basis, Ido is bound to win out over Esperanto because it is a more efficient form of I. L. But is there not reason to suppose that sometime in the future some new form of I. L. may be constructed which will be as superior to Ido as Ido is to Esperanto? Many people, even Idists, have a vague idea that such new discovery is possible. I shall endeavor to show why we have no right to expect any substantial advance over Ido. I am speaking here of Ido as a whole. No Idist supposes that every jot and tittle of the language as it now stands is absolutely perfect and final. But I do assert that taking the language as a whole we have no reason to expect far reaching improvements, such as were made by Ido over Esp.

In the physical and mechanical sciences, some Galileo, some Newton, some Darwin, some Edison, may, by the discovery of a heretofore unknown body of fact, or some new law or rearrangement of existing fact, upset all previous conceptions. This is possible because the scientist has as his material the infinite field of the universe. Now the I. L. has no infinite field of facts to deal with. A priori solutions of the I. L., even if possible, must be rejected as too difficult and unpractical. It is now absolutely evident that the solution of the auxiliary language must be found in the linguistic facts as they now exist in the living languages. Existing languages form a fixed, limited body of fact that has now been so thoroughly considered from every point of view that nothing new in the way of individual fact or theory is likely to be found. We are dealing, as it were, with a problem which has but a few factors or numbers where only certain combinations are mathematically possible. After a certain amount of trial and error, we arrive at the best solution, or the nearest possible perfect solution. It is beyond question evident that the most efficient vocabulary for an I. L. is to be found by applying Jespersen's principle to that body of interrelated roots which are found in European languages. This vast body of interrelated root material is known and fixed, and cannot be increased, decreased or changed. Any type of I. L. which is not based on a scientific, impartial consideration and use of this body of fact must necessarily be inefficient in the degree that it departs therefrom. The interrelated roots practically force the acceptance of certain forms of words. How far Ido incorporates this root material is shown by the table on p. 56.

It might be possible, out of deference to the sentiments of classical scholars, to select only those Romance roots which come from the Latin. Yet the main body of Ido roots would still remain much as they are now because internationality imposes a very large proportion of Latin-derived words. But just in the degree that such an I. L. departed from maximum internationality by insistence upon purely Latin-derived roots, would be the degree of loss of efficiency. It would be possible in an endeavor to follow in part the principle of "equal difficulty" to insert into the I. L. a number of solely English, German and Russian root words, but just in the degree of the insertion of these words which lack internationality, so would be the increase in the amount of inefficiency, and still not greatly change the character of the Ido vocabulary because the majority of its root words have an internationality of four or more languages. It is simply impossible therefore that an efficient form of I. L. would greatly differ in vocabulary from what is now known as Ido.

Take the alphabet of Ido, that of the Roman, which is the alphabet of the greatest internationality in Europe to say nothing of the millions of people who use it in the two Americas. What other alphabet can we take for a scientific form of I. L.? Take the phonetics of Ido, simple, clear, easy as they are for all peoples. There seems little or no possibility of selecting a better system. Take the derivative system of Ido which trial, as well as logic, shows to be efficient and sufficient in every respect. As said Prof. Couturat: "There can exist no other system (than that of Ido) entirely regular and logical," because the relations of the verb, substantive, adjective and adverb, as applied to one root carrying an invariable signification, are fixed in the thought-processes of the mind and so expressed in all languages. To attempt to give an arbitrary root-form for each grammatical form of the idea could only result in a tremendous loss of efficiency.

It is seen therefore that there exists no substantial basis for this vague idea that possibly sometime in the future some body of scholars of eminence will get together and invent a form of I. L. which would be vastly superior to what we now have. As shown, such is impossible for the simple reason that the materials out of which an efficient form of I. L. can be formed are very limited in extent, a fixed quantity which has now been considered and experimented with until little or nothing remains to be discovered. As said Prof. R. Lorentz, in I. L. and Science, p, 20: "One must bear in mind that there also exist things which in their essential features can only be invented once, and that the international language in its final form is one of these."



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Notes :


1 - Notice this word as a specimen of Esp. word building: "aldoni" literally, "al-": to; doni: to give, "to give to" vice the international root Adicion- which is DEFIS. It is a good example of the inefficiency and undesirability of attempting to express a distinct idea through the composition of different roots. The second "Aldono", with characteristic inaptness, permits the use of this new word to express this idea under the truncated form of "adic-i" (instead of adopting the international form of the root, adicion-), probably because Zamenhof or some "best author" once used this form of root.

2 - For example, -ilo is properly simply an affix added to roots to express the idea of instrument; in the Zamenhofan vocabulary it is also used as a separate root to translate the word instrument.

3 - The Idists at first seeking to avoid a schism and to leave the way open to reconciliation, also because it was impossible in a few months to make a thorough study of all the words, adopted en bloc a large number of Esp. words which possessed some internationality. A good part of the later work of the Idist Academy consisted in the gradual elimination from the original Idist vocabulary of that part of the adopted Esp. words which were most characteristically Zamenhofan - that is, roots which did not have maximum internationality or were distorted out of their international forms.

4 - The Esp. phrase "shtelita de la Idistoj" signifies both "stolen from the Idists" and "stolen by the Idists". A language where an ordinary proposition can be used to indicate diametrically opposed ideas can hardly be said not to need amendment.

5 - I am indebted for this list to an article by de Beaufront in Bulletin Francais-Ido' Nos. 25, 26, 27, 28, entitled "In-internationalité de l'Esperanto".

6 - For examples of this misuse, I give the following: el-paroli lit: to speak out, but used in Esp. to translate, to pronounce; kulp-igi, lit.: to make guilty but used in the sense of to accuse; al-doni: lit.: to give to, used in the sense of to add.

7 - In the new Fulcher-Long 'Esp.-English Dictionary' I do find the root invent- given alongside of el-pens-ajo. However, the authors of this dictionary, like the producers of the other Esp. dictionaries, present many innovations in the introduction of unauthorized roots which cannot be found in other Esp. dictionaries. Invent-, for example, is not found in the companion Esp.-English dictionary of Millidge. A German then when he comes across the root invent- must guess at its meaning because his language does not have this root. There are many such instances of disagreement between the national-Esp. dictionaries and the Esp.-national dictionaries. A few days ago, for instance, I happened to look up the Esp. word for "(railway) train". In the Fulcher dictionary, along with the authorized translation vagonaro (fervoja), I found the neologism: trajno; yet upon turning to the Millidge dictionary which has thousands of neologisms, no such word as trajno could he found.

8 - Mal-viv-ulo in Esp. is logically intelligible in a composite way for the idea ordinarily expressed by the international root: kadavro. Or, we might build up, if necessary, a descriptive word for the idea of telephone (as the Germans have done in "Fernsprecher") if the root telefon- was not universally intelligible; for-parol-ilo: lit.: an instrument for speaking at distance, would do very well.



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