The International Language Ido - Questions and Answers

Why use an international language?

The difficulty of understanding one another in a world of many languages is great. There are over 2500 languages in the world, and the major languages of Europe alone are more than most people learn in a lifetime, even if they have the necessary time and talent. We can break through language barriers by using a single language for all international contacts.

How would an international language be used?

As an auxiliary language, it is used beside existing languages, the continued existence of which is essential to the cultures and richness of the world. It provides a means of direct mutual understanding between people who would otherwise be unable to understand one another.

What is the advantage of using a constructed language?

There are several benefits. A constructed language can be made much easier than national languages, which have many difficulties. Secondly, if a national language were chosen for international use, its speakers and their culture would be favoured at the expense of others. Use of a national language could give an unreasonable advantage to one side or the other. A constructed language is also politically neutral.

By learning an international language we meet each other halfway, instead of all the effort being made by those who do not already know the favoured language. Moreover, the simplicity of a constructed language makes it a useful stepping-stone towards learning of other languages.

What is the origin of Ido?

The international language Ido originated largely as an improved version of Esperanto. It was chosen by the Delegation for the Adoption of an International Auxiliary Language from many proposals put forward for consideration. It was developed over a number of years by a Commission set up by the Delegation. Among the improvements incorporated into Ido were some suggested by the author of Esperanto as a result of experience with his invention. (For those interested, a separate information sheet is available which describes the main advantages of Ido over Esperanto).

Who were the authors of Ido?

Dr L. Zamenhof, as the inventor of Esperanto, must be credited with laying the foundation. Those who worked on the elaboration of Ido included Prof. Louis Couturat, Louis de Beaufront, Prof. Otto Jespersen, Prof. Richard Lorenz and Prof. Wilhelm Ostwald. Zamenhof was an oculist; Couturat was a mathematician and philosopher; de Beaufront had been the leading advocate of Esperanto in France; Jespersen was a Danish philologist who was an expert on English; Lorenz was a physicist, and Ostwald was a chemist who won the Nobel prize for his work. The result of their efforts is available to the world.

Is Ido really practical?

Yes. The best proof of this is obtained by trying it. Books and magazines written in the language, and the international meetings at which it is spoken, have demonstrated its practicality. Those who ridicule the idea as impractical refuse to witness its use. They prefer, it seems, to bury their heads in the sand rather than allow themselves to discover that Ido really does work!

How easy is Ido?

You need between a fifth and a tenth of the time required for French or German to attain in Ido the same level of ability. Ido is probably the easiest language in the world.

What alphabet does Ido have?

The alphabet consists of the same 26 letters as in English, without any accents, so there are no difficulties with typing or printing.

How is Ido pronounced?

The pronunciation is similar in some ways to Italian, but even easier. Some languages have difficult sounds of their own, such as the English th or the German ch, and these are not used in Ido. The vowels a, e, i, o are pronounced as in the musical fa, re, mi, do, and u as in the word rule. Most consonants are pronounced as in English, but c is always like ts in hats (like German and Italian z); g is always hard (as in give), and s is always sharp as in sing. The letter j is pronounced as in French je or like the s in pleasure.

What sort of vocabulary does Ido have?

It is based on the vocabularies of the main European languages since they are so widespread and have so many words in common (often those of Latin origin). The basic words in Ido were chosen with the primary aim of being intelligible to as many speakers of these languages as possible. Here are some examples, with equivalents in French, German, Italian, Russian (transcribed) and Spanish where they are similar, and in English. Related words which are relevant to the Ido words are given in brackets.

altra - F autre [alternatif], I altro, S otro, E other [alternate]
banko - F banque, G Bank, I banca, S banco, R bank, E bank
etajo - F étage, G Etage, R etaj, E storey, floor
filtrar - F filtrer, G filtrieren, I filtrare, R filtr, S filtrar, E to filter
gramatiko - F grammaire, G Grammatik, I grammatica, S gramatica, R grammatika, E grammar
kavalo - F cheval [cavalier], I cavallo, S cavalo, E horse [cavalry]
krano - G Kran, R kran, E crane
libera - F libre [liberti], I libero, S libre, E free [liberty]
libro - F livre [librairie], I and S libro, E book [library]
mento - F esprit [mental], G Geist [Mentalität], I and S mente, E mind [mental]
naciono - F nation, G Nation, I nazione, R nacia, S nacisn, E nation
studiar - F étudier, G studieren, I studiare, S estudiar, E to study
telefono - F téléphone, G Telephon, I and S telefono, R telefon, E telephone
yuna - F jeune, G jung, R yuniy, E young.

Is it necessary to remember a large vocabulary?

No. Ido is more economical in this respect than most languages. The basic vocabulary is extended considerably by adding prefixes and suffixes. These can be used to make many more words which therefore do not need to be remembered separately. This method reduces considerably the need to remember a large vocabulary. There is no need to consult a dictionary to check whether any logical word is allowed, since if it is logical it is allowed.

From flor-o (flower) it is easy to form the words flor-ala (floral), flor-oza (flowery) and flor-isto (florist). From libr-o (book), we get libr- erio (library), and libr-ala (book-related, bookish).

The suffix -ala can be used with any noun, as in the words we have seen (florala, librala) and in mentala (from mento: mind), manuala (from manuo: hand), marala (marine, from maro: sea), dorsala (dorsal, from dorso: back) and amikala (friendly, amicable, from amiko: friend). From these few examples you can see that English often requires knowledge of two dissimilar words, while only one needs to be remembered in Ido.

The suffixes -ulo and -ino avoid the need to remember separate words for males and females. For example, kavalulo (stallion) and kavalino (mare), from kavalo (horse); aktorulo (actor) and aktorino (actress), from aktoro (actor or actress); amikulo (male friend) and amikino (female friend) from amiko (friend); spozulo (husband) and spozino (wife), from spozo (spouse). Another advantage is that the basic word can be used whenever it is unnecessary or inappropriate to be more specific.

The suffix -oza similarly provides many words which do not need to be separately remembered. For example, koloroza (colourful, from koloro: colour), saloza (salty, from salo: salt), aquoza (aqueous, watery, from aquo: water), lignoza (ligneous, woody, from ligno: wood), poroza (porous), entuziasmoza (enthusiastic, from entuziasmo: enthusiasm), joyoza (joyful, from joyo: joy).

One more example: the suffix -ilo added to the root of a verb means a thing with which something is done. So brosilo is a brush (from brosar: to brush), ludilo is a plaything or toy (from ludar: to play), barilo is a barrier (from barar: to bar the way), kalkulilo is a calculator (from kalkular: to calculate), apertilo is an opener (from apertar: to open), and skribilo is something, such as a pen or pencil, to write with (from skribar: to write).

What sort of grammar does Ido have?

The most regular grammar possible, without the exceptions which make most languages so difficult to learn. There is no (grammatical) gender, so no need to know that a noun is masculine or feminine or neuter. Adjectives do not vary to agree with nouns.

The word order is relatively flexible. For example, an adjective can be put before or after the noun it qualifies, as convenient. Nouns end in -o in the singular, -i in the plural. For example, libro = book; libri = books. So from dento (tooth), kavalo (horse), tomato it is easy to make the words for teeth, horses, and tomatoes (denti, kavali, tomati).

Adjectives end in -a, and form adverbs by substituting -e. For example, lenta = slow; lente = slowly). From bona (good), rapida (fast), facila (easy), felica (happy) it is simple to form the adverbs for well, quickly, easily and happily.

Verb endings do not change according to person but only according to tense, and no verbs are irregular. Verbs end in -ar (infinitive), -as (present), -is (past), -os (future), -us (conditional). Knowing that trovar = to find, it is easy to say the equivalents for we find (ni trovas), we found (ni trovis), we will find (ni trovos), etc.

What does Ido look like?
Here are a few sentences:

La linguo Ido esas probable la maxim facila linguo en la mondo.
(The language Ido is probably the easiest language in the world).

El recevis letro de korespondanto en Polonia.
(She received a letter from a correspondent in Poland).

Ube vu trovis vua plumo?
(Where did you find your pen?)

Me trovis la plumo hike, e me trovis la papero ibe.
(I found the pen here, and I found the paper there).

Il korespondas kun amiki en altra landi.
(He corresponds with friends in other countries).

Who uses Ido?

Anyone who wants to, and who has had the good luck to discover this remarkable language and to realise the advantage it offers for communicating with people who speak other languages. Most beginners soon want to put their new knowledge to use by corresponding with someone in another country, and magazines in Ido publish without charge small announcements by people wishing to correspond.

How do people learn the language?

Many learn from a book, while some have the help of existing speakers. There have been vocabularies and grammar books for Ido published in more than a dozen languages including French, German, Japanese, Russian and Swedish. There is also a dictionary, for those who already have a basic knowledge, in which every word is defined in the language itself. There is even material for people who have learned the original Esperanto and need only to learn the improvements made in Ido. Books in and about the language are available by post from the Ido Book Service, from which a catalogue is available.

How is promotion of the language organised?

There are national Ido societies, as well as an overall organisation, the Union for the International Language (Ido). International meetings for users of the language, usually lasting about several days, have been organised in different countries. Beginners are welcome, and they quickly discover the pleasure of hearing the language which until then some have experienced only in writing. There has usually been a mixed programme of talks, discussions, entertainment and trips to nearby places of interest.

Is there any literature in this language?

There are both original and translated works on a variety of subjects, and even a surprising amount of poetry in Ido. Two anthologies have been published of the best writings in the language, representing the work of more than a hundred authors.

Why is Ido not better known?

All the effort of spreading Ido is voluntary. It takes time and resources to make it known, and there is no commercial or political interest in the promotion of the idea. Many people refuse to believe that it really does work even though by trying it they could prove it for themselves.

Why not prove it for yourself? Before long you could be reading, and then speaking, another language, and helping to make this excellent idea better known.

Can anyone join, or is it necessary to learn the language first?

There is no requirement to know Ido before joining, or any obligation to learn it after joining, though naturally it is hoped that members will at least make the small effort needed to be able to read the language. Anyone who wishes to support the work of an Ido society is welcome to become a member and thereby also keep in touch with progress in spreading the idea.

For a list of books, for further information, or for membership, please write to one of the representatives to let them know of your interest.

The International Language (Ido) Society of GB:
Hon. Secretary: 24 Nunn Street, Leek, Staffs. ST13 8EA, England.
Ido Book Service: 44 Woodville Road, Cathays, Cardiff CF2 4EB, England.

For basic information about the grammar and vocabulary of Ido, the following link will take you to HOW IDO WORKS

Alternatively, return to the main page: MAIN PAGE