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Ido is a "reformed" version of the constructed language Esperanto. It was developed in the early 1900s, and still has a small following today, primarily in Europe.

Ido inherits many of the same grammatical features of Esperanto, and in many cases the vocabulary is similar. Ido shares with Esperanto the goals of grammatical simplicity and consistency, ease of learning, and the use of loanwords from various European languages. However, certain changes were introduced to address some of the concerns that had arisen about Esperanto. These include:

  • Esperanto's alphabet uses six non-Latin letters, three of which are not found in any existing language; as a result, Esperanto in typing and in internet e-mail and newsgroups frequently resorts to any of several schemes to represent these special letters. This leads to the situation where the same word may be displayed any of several different ways. Ido addresses this issue by using the 26-letter English alphabet.

  • For reasons of grammatical simplicity, Ido generally does not impose rules of grammatical agreement between grammatical categories within a sentence, since these are redundant. For example, in Esperanto, the verb in a sentence is invariable regardless of the number and person of the subject. But this principle was not extended in Esperanto to adjectives and nouns; as a result, in Esperanto, an adjective must agree in number and case with the noun it modifies. There is no such requirement in English, for example, where number is emphasized by variation of the verb, and Ido eliminates this feature from its grammar.

  • Esperanto requires the use of the -n ending to signify the use of the accusative case. Ido allows the use of this feature in ambiguous situations where the object of a sentence does not follow the subject, but in all other situations the accusative case was eliminated as redundant.

  • Ido imposes consistent rules on the use of endings to tranform a word from one meaning or part of speech to another, thus simplifying the amount of vocabulary memorization that is necessary.

  • Ido, unlike Esperanto, does not assume the male gender as the default, and thus does not, for example, define a sister as a female-brother, as Esperanto does.

  • The Ido vocabulary attempts to use cognates that are shared in common by as many of its source languages as possible.

Table of contents


Each word in the Ido vocabulary is built from a root word. A root 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. Ido is grammatically invariable; there are no exceptions in Ido, unlike in natural languages.

Some of the grammatical endings are defined as follows:

  • -o : noun
  • -a : adjective
  • -e : adverb
  • -ar : verb infinitive
  • -as : verb, present tense
  • -is : verb, past tense
  • -os : verb, future tense

much more about Ido grammar can be explained here, such as pronouns, affixes, references to the history of the language


The request by the Delegation for the Adoption of an International Auxiliary Language to the International Association of Academies in Vienna to select an international language was rejected in May, 1907. The Delegation, which had been founded by Louis Couturat[?], decided to meet as a Committee in Paris in October 1907 to discuss the adoption of a standard international language among the various competitors that had been devised up to that time. According to the minutes of the Committee, it decided that no language was completely acceptable, but that Esperanto could be accepted "because of its relative perfection and because of the many and diverse applications already received by it, on condition of several modifications to be realized by the permanent Commission in the direction defined by the conclusions of the Report of the Secretaries (Couturat and Leopold Leau) and by the Ido project" which latter had been presented to the Committee as an anonymous project. The Ido project has later been suggested to have been primarily devised by Couturat with some help from Esperanto's representative before the Committee, Louis de Beaufront. Beaufront had himself argued for reforming Esperanto prior to having been selected to the Delegation, and during the proceedings he argued in favor of Esperanto over other languages; his "conversion" to the Ido camp upon the presentation of that language was thus consistent with his earlier positions.

Early supporters of Esperanto tended to resist reforms, and the language's inventor, L. L. Zamenhof deferred to their judgement. Ironically, several of the reforms adopted by Ido were themselves proposed at various times by Zamenhof. The custom of keeping the basic rules of Esperanto fixed remains today. Couturat, who was the leading proponent of Ido, was killed in an automobile accident in 1914, which, along with World War I, dealt a serious blow to the Ido movement. Although that movement recovered to some degree in the immediate postwar period, the whole movement of international languages became Balkanized as a result of Couturat's death. The publication of an even more Europeanized planned language, Occidental, in 1922 began the process of splintering the community, and the Ido movement lost a majority of its published periodicals in the subsequent year or so, and the defection of its major intellectual supporter, the Danish linguist Otto Jespersen, in 1928 on the occasion of the publication of his own planned language Novial, seemed at the time to provide a quietus.

However, the language still has a few speakers today, and the internet has sparked a renewal of interest in the language in recent years. The estimates of the number of speakers range from 250-5000. In comparison, Esperanto has about 2 million speakers.

Jespersen, who was present during the ten days of Committee deliberations in Paris and later served as part of the permanent Commission, wrote a history of Ido.

Many Esperanto supporters have attacked Ido over the years. One of them, Don Harlow, wrote a history of Ido in The Esperanto Book, in his third chapter, "How to Build a Language". There have been many questions about the validity of his history, to which he replies in a subchapter, "Ido: The Beginning". However, most Ido partisans argue that Harlow's history does not jibe with all the eyewitness accounts, such as those reported by Jespersen, although it is based on material from some other eyewitnesses such as Emile Boirac and Gaston Moch and with some source documentation, to which Harlow claims Jespersen did not have access (such as Zamenhof's correspondence with Couturat and others during the period).

Recent International Ido Conventions

2002: Krakow, Poland - 14 participants from 6 countries
2001: Nuremberg, Germany - 14 participations from 5 countries
1998: Białobrzegi, Poland - 15 participants from 6 countries
1997: Bakkum (mun. Castricum), Netherlands - 19 participants from 7 countries
1995: Elsnigk, Germany
1991: Ostend, Belgium - 21 participants
1980: Namur, Belgium - 35 participants
1960: Zurich, Switzerland - ca. 50 participants

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