Comparison between Esperanto and Ido
There are several main differences between Esperanto and Ido, two constructed languages that have a related past but have since parted ways. Ido was invented in the early 20th century after a schism between those who believed that Esperanto was almost good enough, were it not for inherent features seen by them as flaws that prevented it from being a suitable proposal of international auxiliary language, and those who believed that Esperanto was sufficient as it was, and that endless tinkering with a language would only weaken it in the end.
The languages remain close, and to some extent mutually intelligible. An Italian play which was written with the dialog in two dialects of Italian was translated with Esperanto and Ido representing these two dialects. In the same manner in which dialects often serve as sources for new words through the literature of ethnic languages, so Ido has contributed many neologisms to Esperanto (especially in poetic substitutes for long words using the mal- prefix).
One study conducted with 20 college students at Columbia University circa 1933 suggests that Esperanto's system of correlative words is easier to learn than Ido's. Two other studies by the same researchers suggest no significant overall difference in difficulty of learning between Esperanto and Ido for educated American adults, but the sample sizes were again small: in the two tests combined, only 32 test subjects studied Ido. The researchers concluded that additional comparative studies of Esperanto and Ido are needed.
In 1900 Louis Couturat, after initial correspondences with Esperanto-founder L. L. Zamenhof created the Delegation for the Adoption of an International Auxiliary Language. In 1907 in Vienna, the Delegation met to choose an international auxiliary language to give its approval from among the many candidates which had crept up. Most Esperantists assumed Esperanto would be an easy win. However, when Couturat presented his own pet project, a series of reforms to Esperanto which would eventually become Ido, and demanded an answer within a month, many in the Esperanto movement felt betrayed. Some Esperantists even accuse Couturat and his colleague Louis de Beaufront of a conspiracy saying the International Delegation was simply a front to put forth Ido.
Esperanto is based on the Fundamento de Esperanto by L. L. Zamenhof, whereas the grammar of Ido is explained in the Kompleta Gramatiko Detaloza di la Linguo Internaciona Ido. Modern Esperanto has received some influence from Ido in areas such as a clarification of the rules for word derivation and suffixes like -oz- ("abundant in") and -end- ("required to").
Ido's rule for determining stress is regular, but more complex than Esperanto's. In Esperanto, all words are stressed on the second-to-last syllable: radio, televido. In Ido all polysyllables are stressed on the second-to-last syllable except for verb infinitives, which are stressed on the last syllable—skolo, kafeo and lernas for "school", "coffee" and the present tense of "to learn", but irar, savar and drinkar for "to go", "to know" and "to drink". If an i or u precedes another vowel, the pair is considered part of the same syllable when applying the accent rule—thus radio, familio and manuo for "radio", "family" and "hand", unless the two vowels are the only ones in the word, in which case the "i" or "u" is stressed: dio, frua for "day" and "early".
Esperanto eliminates the letters ‹q›, ‹w›, ‹x›, and ‹y› from the 26-letter English alphabet and adds the new letters ‹ĉ›, ‹ĝ›, ‹ĥ›, ‹ĵ›, ‹ŝ› and ‹ŭ›. Ido uses the 26-letter alphabet without changes, substituting digraphs for Esperanto's diacritics. While words in both Ido and Esperanto are spelled exactly as they are pronounced, the presence of digraphs means that Ido does not have the one-to-one correspondence between letters and sounds that Esperanto has. However, Ido's digraphs are more recognizable to speakers of Romance languages and its avoidance of diacritics guarantees that any computer system that supports English could easily be used for Ido.
The Fundamento de Esperanto does allow the use of the digraphs ‹ch›, ‹gh›, ‹hh›, ‹jh›, ‹sh› and the single letter ‹u› instead of the ordinary diacritical letters of Esperanto when those are unavailable. With the advent of computers, another system of surrogate Esperanto writing using ‹cx›, ‹gx›, ‹hx›, ‹jx›, ‹sx› and ‹ux› was introduced. It however remains unofficial.
In general, the letter ĥ in Esperanto becomes h or k in Ido. The letters ĝ and ĵ are merged into j while ĉ, ŝ, ŭ, kz and kv respectively become ch, sh, w, x, and qu.
Both in Ido and in Esperanto, each word is built from a root word. A word consists of a root and a grammatical ending. Other words can be formed from that word by removing the grammatical ending and adding a new one, or by inserting certain affixes between the root and the grammatical ending.
Some of the grammatical endings of the two languages are defined as follows:
|Singular noun||-o (libro)||book||-o (libro)|
|Plural noun||-i (libri)||books||-oj (libroj)|
|Adjective||-a (varma)||warm||-a (varma)|
|Adverb||-e (varme)||warmly||-e (varme)|
|Present tense infinitive||-ar (irar)||to be going||to go||-anti (iranti)||-i (iri)|
|Past tense infinitive||-ir (irir)||to have gone||-inti (irinti)|
|Future tense infinitive||-or (iror)||to be going to go||-onti (ironti)|
|Present||-as (iras)||go, goes||-as (iras)|
|Past||-is (iris)||went||-is (iris)|
|Future||-os (iros)||will go||-os (iros)|
|Imperative||-ez (irez)||go!||-u (iru)|
|Conditional||-us (irus)||would go||-us (irus)|
Most of these endings are the same as in Esperanto except for -i, -ir, -ar, -or and -ez. Esperanto marks noun plurals by an agglutinative ending -j (so plural nouns end in -oj), uses -i for verb infinitives (Esperanto infinitives are tenseless), and uses -u for the imperative. Verbs in Ido do not conjugate depending on person, number or gender; the -as, -is, and -os endings suffice whether the subject is I, you, he, she, they, or anything else.
Both languages have the same grammatical rules concerning nouns (ending with -o), adjectives (ending with -a) and many other aspects. However, the relationship between nouns, verbs and adjectives underwent a number of changes with Ido, based on the principle of reversibility. In both languages one can see a direct relationship between the words multa "many" and multo "a multitude" by simply replacing the adjectival -a with a nominal -o, or the other way around.
Some minor differences include the loss of adjectival agreement, and the change of the plural from an agglutinative -j tacked onto the end to a synthetic replacement of the terminal -o with an -i. Hence, Esperanto belaj hundoj ("beautiful dogs") becomes Ido bela hundi. Ido also does away with the direct object ending -n in sentences where the subject precedes the object, so Esperanto mi amas la belajn hundojn ("I love the beautiful dogs") would in Ido become me amas la bela hundi.
Greater differences arise, however, with the derivations of many words. For example, in Esperanto, the noun krono means "a crown", and by replacing the nominal o with a verbal i one derives the verb kroni "to crown". However, if one were to begin with the verb kroni, "to crown", and replace the verbal i with a nominal o to create a noun, the resulting meaning would not be "a coronation", but rather the original "crown". This is because the root kron- is inherently a noun: With the nominal ending -o the word simply means the thing itself, whereas with the verbal -i it means an action performed with the thing. To get the name for the performance of the action, it is necessary to use the suffix -ado, which retains the verbal idea. Thus it is necessary to know which part of speech each Esperanto root belongs to.
Ido introduced a number of suffixes in an attempt to clarify the morphology of a given word, so that the part of speech of the root would not need to be memorized. In the case of the word krono "a crown", the suffix -izar "to cover with" is added to create the verb kronizar "to crown". From this verb it is possible to remove the verbal -ar and replace it with a nominal -o, creating the word kronizo "a coronation". By not allowing a noun to be used directly as a verb, as in Esperanto, Ido verbal roots can be recognized without the need to memorize them.
Ido corresponds more overtly to the expectations of the Romance languages, whereas Esperanto is more heavily influenced by Slavic semantics and phonology.
Ido word order is generally the same as Esperanto (subject–verb–object). The sentence Me havas la blua libro is the same as the Esperanto Mi havas la bluan libron ("I have the blue book"), both in meaning and word order. There are a few differences, however:
- In both Esperanto and Ido, adjectives can precede the noun as in English, or follow the noun as in Spanish. Thus, Me havas la libro blua means the same thing.
- Ido has the accusative suffix -n, but unlike Esperanto, this suffix is only required when the object of the sentence is not clear, for example, when the subject-verb-object word order is not followed. Thus, La bluan libron me havas also means the same thing.
Unlike Esperanto, Ido does not impose rules of grammatical agreement between grammatical categories within a sentence. Adjectives don't have to be pluralized: in Ido the large books would be la granda libri as opposed to la grandaj libroj in Esperanto.
Although both Esperanto and Ido share a large amount of vocabulary, there are differences. The creators of Ido felt that much of Esperanto was either not internationally recognizable, or unnecessarily deformed, and aimed to fix these with more "international" or "corrected" roots. This can sometimes be at the expense of Esperanto's simpler word building process.
Ido, unlike Esperanto, does not assume the male sex by default. For example, Ido does not derive the word for waitress by adding a feminine suffix to waiter, as Esperanto does. Instead, Ido words are defined as sex-neutral, and two different suffixes derive masculine and feminine words from the root: servisto for a waiter of either sex, servistulo for a male waiter, and servistino for a waitress. There are only two exceptions to this rule: First, patro for father, matro for mother, and genitoro for parent, and second, viro for man, muliero for woman, and adulto for adult.
|ĉirkaŭ||cirkum||around/circa||autour de||ungefähr/circa||circa||alrededor, cerca||ao redor, em volta|
Note that three of the languages chosen in this chart are Romance languages and that English has also had large influences from French and Latin. In comparison, Esperanto is somewhat more influenced by German vocabulary and Slavic semantics (as in the case of prefix mal-) and has more priority over word compounding by affixes.
Ido claims the prefix mal- (creating a word with the exact opposite meaning) in Esperanto to be overused as a prefix, and also to be inappropriate since it has negative meanings in many languages, and introduces des- as an alternative in such cases. Ido also uses a series of opposite words in lieu of a prefix. For example, instead of malbona ("bad", the opposite of bona, "good"), Ido uses mala, or instead of mallonga ("short", the opposite of longa, "long"), kurta. Listening comprehension was also given as a reason: the primary Ido grammar book states that one reason for the adoption of the Latin-based sinistra for "left" instead of maldextra (mal- plus the word dextra, or dekstra for "right") is that often only the last one or two syllables can be heard when shouting commands. Esperanto has developed alternate forms for many of these words (such as liva for maldekstra), but most of these are rarely used.
Most Esperanto words are gender-neutral ("table", "grass", etc.). However, Esperanto assumes the male gender by default in other words, mainly words dealing with familial relationships, professions and some animals. These words can be made female with the use of the feminine suffix. In Ido there is no default gender for normal root words, and one simply adds the corresponding masculine or feminine suffix only when desired. For example, frato means "brother" in Esperanto, but "sibling" in Ido. Ido uses the suffixes -ino ("female", used as in Esperanto) and -ulo ("male", not to be confused with the same Esperanto suffix which means "person"). Thus "sister" is fratino (the same as Esperanto), but brother is fratulo. "Sibling" and other gender neutral forms are especially difficult in Esperanto since Esperanto simply does not have a word for such gender neutral forms. Esperanto does, however, have an epicene prefix that indicates “both sexes together”: ge-. Patro means "father" and patrino "mother"; gepatroj means "parents". In standard usage gepatro cannot be used in the singular to indicate a parent of unknown gender; one would say instead unu el la gepatroj, "one (out) of the parents".
There is a nonstandard suffix in Esperanto that means "male": -iĉo- (see Gender reform in Esperanto). There is also an existing official prefix, vir-, with the same meaning. These gender differences exist for as many Esperanto words exist which are masculine by default.
A few exceptions exist in Ido's gender system as described above, which avoid its suffix system, for which it was decided that the feminine words were so much more recognizable to its source languages: viro ("man"), muliero ("woman"), patro ("father"), and matro ("mother"). Compare these with Esperanto viro, virino, patro, and patrino, respectively. Ido also has several other neutral-gender words, such as genitoro for "parent". Gepatri in Ido means the same as Esperanto gepatroj (i.e. "parents" of both genders); genitori means "parents" in the English sense, not making any implication of gender whatsoever.
Other words, such as amiko ("friend"), are neutral in Esperanto as well as Ido.
Esperanto adopts a regular scheme of correlatives organized as a table. Ido adopts ad hoc Latin-derived roots which are more recognizable for speakers of Romance languages but which do not form such a regular system. Esperanto kio equals Ido quo, "what"; Esperanto tie equals Ido ibe, "there"; etc.
|some kind of
|every kind of
|no kind of
|for that reason
|for some reason
|for every reason
|for no reason
|in every way
|in no way
|some, a bit
|all of it
|none of it
|Individual||–u||who, which one
|that person, that one
|no one, none
The time it takes to learn the Esperanto correlatives versus the Ido ones was studied at Columbia University cerca 1933:
Twenty university students having no particular knowledge of either Esperanto or Ido studied the forty-five correlatives of Esperanto and the corresponding words in Ido, for ninety minutes in each case. Ten studied the Esperanto on January 4 and the Ido on January 5. Ten studied the Ido on January 4 and the Esperanto on January 5.
Following the ninety minutes of study there was a multiple choice test. On January 6 there was a test in which the subjects were required to write the Esperanto and the Ido equivalents of the English words (all, always, each, every, everything, for no reason, how, etc.) Both multiple choice test and recall test for both Esperanto and Ido were repeated on January 23 and April 23. From January 9 to January 23 the subjects had twenty hours of teaching and study of Esperanto, so that only the tests before January 9 are valid for the comparison of the two languages. In these early tests the median number of the 45 multiple choices was 44 for Esperanto and 43 for Ido: the median number recalled correctly from the 45 English words was 32 for Esperanto and 15½ for Ido. The corresponding averages were 28 and 20. The Esperanto system was easier to learn for this group. But the experiment should be repeated with other groups.
— International Auxiliary Language Association, 1933
The pronouns of Ido were revised to make them more acoustically distinct than those of Esperanto, which all end in i. Especially the singular and plural first-person pronouns mi and ni may be difficult to distinguish in a noisy environment, so Ido has me and ni instead. Ido also distinguishes between intimate (tu) and formal (vu) second-person singular pronouns as well as plural second-person pronouns (vi) not marked for intimacy. Furthermore, Ido has a pan-gender third-person pronoun lu (it can mean "he", "she", or "it", depending on the context) in addition to its masculine (il), feminine (el), and neuter (ol) third-person pronouns.
- ci, while technically the familiar form of the word "you" in Esperanto, is almost never used. Results on Google have shown that while tu is only slightly less common than vu in Ido, ci is used less than half of one percent of the amount vi is in Esperanto. Esperanto's inventor himself did not include the pronoun in the first book on Esperanto and only later reluctantly; later he recommended against using ci on the grounds that different cultures have conflicting traditions regarding the use of the familiar and formal forms of "you", and that a universal language should avoid the problem by simply using the formal form in all situations. Unlike some other languages that use a formal second person pronoun, vi is not capitalized.
- tiu, though not a personal pronoun, is usually used in this circumstance, because many people have a hard time applying "it" to humans.
It should be noted that ol, like English it and Esperanto ĝi, is not limited to inanimate objects, but can be used "for entities whose sex is indeterminate: babies, children, humans, youths, elders, people, individuals, horses, cows, cats, etc."
Esperanto may or may not "Esperantize" names and proper nouns, depending on many factors. Most standard European names have equivalents, as do many major cities and all nations. Ido, on the other hand, treats most proper nouns as foreign words, and does not render them into Ido.
Most European names have Esperanto equivalents, such as Johano 'John', Aleksandro 'Alexander', Mario or Maria 'Mary', among others. Some Esperanto speakers choose to take on a fully assimilated name, or to at least adjust the orthography of their name to the Esperanto alphabet. Others leave their name completely unmodified. This is regarded as a personal choice, and the Academy of Esperanto officially affirmed this proclaiming that “everyone has the right to keep their authentic name in its original orthography, as long as it is written in Latin letters.”
Personal names in Ido, on the other hand, are always left unmodified.
Most countries have their own names in Esperanto. The system of derivation, though, is sometimes complex. Where the country is named after an ethnic group, the main root means a person of that group: anglo is an Englishman, franco is a Frenchman. Originally, names of countries were created by the addition of the suffix -ujo ("container"), hence England and France would be rendered Anglujo and Francujo respectively (literally "container for Englishmen/Frenchmen"). More recently, many Esperantists have adopted -io as the national suffix, thus creating names more in line with standard international practice (and less odd-looking): Anglio, Francio, nevertheless the suffix remains unofficial.
In the New World, where citizens are named for their country, the name of the country is the main word, and its inhabitants are derived from that: Kanado ("Canada"), kanadano ("Canadian").
Names of cities may or may not have an Esperanto equivalent: Londono for London, Nov-Jorko for New York. Place names which lack widespread recognition, or which would be mangled beyond recognition, usually remain in their native form: Cannes is usually rendered as Cannes.
In Ido, country names must conform to the language's orthography but otherwise are left unchanged: Europa, Peru, Amerika. City names are treated as foreign words (London), except when part of the name itself is a regular noun or adjective: Nov-York (Nov for nova, or "new", but the place name York is not changed as in Esperanto "Nov-Jorko"). This is not a hard and fast rule, however, and New York is also acceptable, similar to writing Köln for the city of Cologne in Germany. South Carolina becomes Sud-Karolina, much in the same way that a river called the "Schwarz River" is not transcribed as the "Black River" in English even though schwarz is the German word for black. However, less well-known place names are generally left alone, so a small town by the name of "Battle River" for example would be written the same way, and not transcribed as "Batalio-rivero". This is because transcribing a little-known place name would make it nearly impossible to find in the original language.
Esperanto and Ido were compared in studies at Columbia University cerca 1933:
A question which has been of interest to us is the comparative ease of learning of various artificial languages. The above records are all for Esperanto. Unfortunately we have been able to test only two groups learning Ido. Our test material is available to anyone who wishes to obtain further results. Of our two groups one comprised only four volunteer college students. The other consisted of twenty-eight educated adults who studied Ido for twenty hours as paid subjects in an experiment. We present here the outcome of our study.
Before any study of Ido the initial test scores are higher [than Esperanto], but the gains are less except in one function—aural understanding.
The final scores are practically the same. They are the same in vocabulary, 71.9; in terms of the sum of the three other tests, we have final scores of 44.1 for Esperanto and 45.2 for Ido. These results are, it must be remembered, for a limited number of subjects of able intellect who were working under more or less favorable conditions. Further experimentation, however, will probably bear out our conclusion that there is no great difference in difficulty in the learning of these two particular synthetic languages.
— International Auxiliary Language Association, 1933
Number of speakers
Esperanto is estimated to have approximately 100,000 to 2 million fluent speakers. In the same manner estimates for the number of Ido speakers are far from accurate, but 500 to a few thousand is most likely. It is also important to note the distinction between the number of speakers compared to the number of supporters; the two languages resemble each other enough that a few weeks of study will enable one to understand the other with little difficulty, and there are a number of people that have learned Ido out of curiosity but prefer to support the larger Esperanto movement and vice versa. The number of participants at the respective international conferences is also much different: Esperanto conferences average 2000 to 3000 participants every year whereas Ido conferences have had anywhere from 13 to 25 participants over the last decade. Each language also has a number of regional conferences during the year on a much less formal basis, and with smaller numbers.
Patro nia, kiu estas en la ĉielo,
Patro nia, qua esas en la cielo,
Our Father in heaven,
Padre Nuestro que estás en el cielo,
- Language Learning: Summary of a Report to the International Auxiliary Language Association in the United States, Incorported. New York City: Teachers' College, Columbia University. 1933. pp. 12–13.
- De Beaufront, L (2004). "Pronunco dil konstanti e digrami" [Pronunciation of consonants and digraphs]. Kompleta Gramatiko Detaloza di Ido. pp. 8–11. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- De Beaufront, L (2004). "Acento tonika" [Tonic accent]. Kompleta Gramatiko Detaloza di Ido. pp. 11–12. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- Chandler, James (6 November 1997). "Changes in Ido since 1922". Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- ApGawain, Niklas; P.D. Hugon, J.L. Moore, L. de Beaufront (30 December 2008). Ido For All. pp. 52, 70. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
- "MAL" (in Esperanto). 9 March 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- Eventoj, no. 103, ISSN 01215-959 X. Ci estas senvalora balasto (Ci is useless ballast). 1996. Available at http://www.eventoj.hu/arkivo/eve-103.htm
-  Albaut, André, et al. (1992). AKTOJ de la AKADEMIO III: 1975-1991. Coconnier, Sablé-sur-Sarthe, France. Rekomendoj pri propraj nomoj, pp. 76.
- Wennergren, Bertilo (2005). Plena Manlibro de Esperanta Gramatiko. El Cerrito, California, USA: Esperanto-Ligo por Norda Ameriko. ISBN 0-939785-07-2.Propraj nomoj, pp. 499.
- Ethnologue report on Esperanto, retrieved 27 March 2010.
- Fundamento de Esperanto.
- Kompleta Gramatiko Detaloza di la Linguo Internaciona Ido (Complete Detailed Grammar of the International Language Ido).
- Plena Manlibro de Esperanta Gramatiko (A Complete Handbook of Esperanto Grammar).
- How is Ido different from Esperanto?, in Wikibooks.
- Which IAL? A comparison of the two languages and others by a supporter of both and the IAL concept in general.
- Why Ido?