Critiques of individual planned languages  


Why should I bother criticizing other planned languages?

1.  When I first read about constructed languages I didn't know which one to learn, so I learned none of them!  Perhaps if you are newly interested in conlangs this critique can save you some time, and encourage you to start learning Esperanto right away!  (See Note 1)

2.  Finally I decided to learn Esperanto, but I wasn't 100% sure that I had made the best choice, and I got very tired of other auxlangers ridiculing me for being satisfied with such a (uncomplementary adjectives deleted here) language.  So I read and saved all available material on the web about other "major" conlangs, as part of an information-seeking campaign.

3.  For my own interest (because it's there!) I worked through basic courses in Interlingua IALA, Volapük, and Ido, and read with interest material about Novial, Latino sine Flexione, Loglan/Lojban and Glosa.  It's fun!

4. Whereas Esperantists spend generally *use* the language rather than comparing it to others, proponents of other planned languages spend a great deal of time denigrating Esperanto (see Note 2).  This is something like playing "king on the mountain", whoever is on top gets pushed the most.  After all comparisons I still liked Esperanto the best, but it got old reading all these attacks on it.  So why shouldn't I balance things out a little by pointing out some of comparisons that favor Esperanto?

5. Provizo:  As I make clear elsewhere, I'd be happy if *any* of these languages came into world-wide use as the international auxiliary language.  It is more important to have an IAL, rather than to argue about which one to have.  [I just happen to like Esperanto better than the others listed here, and it has one overwhelming advantage:  it's already in use!]

Caution!  I am only an amateur linguist (See Note 3), and the following is chock-full of my own opinions.  Proceed at your own risk!  And please let me know if I've made any factual errors.  I don't expect everyone to agree with my opinions, but I'd like to have my facts right.

Ken
 

Critiques presented in no particular order, except that I put Volapük at the top, and after that shorter sections tend to come before longer ones: Volapük / LsF / Loglan-Lojban / Glosa / Klingon / Novial / Interlingua-IALA / Ido  
In this document I have opted not to add many links to online resources (which may disappear or move).  For my current list of interesting conlang links, please visit my homepage and click on "Hobbies", then select a planlingvo to send you directly to the appropriate section of my FUR (c)  / "Frequently Used Resources".

Anyone seriously comparing various constructed languages would be well advised to read Don Harlow's "How to Build a Language"


Volapük:

The first constructed language to achieve any significant success, its proponents mostly deserted to Esperanto.  Perhaps because Esperanto was easier?  Perhaps because of the infighting that broke out when the Schleyer (inventor of Volapük) tried to retain complete control of the language?

Volapük is a very logical language, relies heavily on word construction, but is in IMO still relatively difficult to master, mainly because of its complexity.  Root words are mostly from English, but are transmogrified out of all recognition.  [vol = world, pük = speech/language, flen = friend, blod = brother, laf = half, etc.]

There is a small Volapük presence on the web, I have been working with Thomas Leigh to help put the 10-lesson course online.  Books and course are available by post.  My main source of information is a grammar written in Esperanto.  There are not many speakers of the language, but it is a very interesting challenge, and worthy of recognition.

Don HARLOW <donh /c`e/ NETCOM.COM> reports:

> Bernard Golden, when searching for speakers of Volapu"k in 1979 for the 100th anniversary of the language, claimed to have found a total of ten -- all of whom could also speak Esperanto. There does, however, appear to be a minor Volapu"k movement still extant in Europe.  According to a friend of mine from Hungary, they once asked Swiss Esperantist Claude Gacond to become their leader. Gacond declined politely -- a practice from which we on the net might take a lesson or two... <

Latino sine Flexione:

Great idea!  Use Latin vocabulary, somewhat familiar to us (and it wouldn't hurt us if we got more familiar with it!) but without the complications and exceptions.  Well, without most of them.  Created by the famous mathematician G. Peano, LsF has never really attracted enough support to get started.  But you can look at all the material I have concerning it here:  <LsF.txt>

Loglan/Lojban:

Created to see if we think radically differently when speaking a radically different language.  It will be interesting to see the results, when/if some people learn it.  Loglan was under copyright, so a splinter group created Lojban with different vocabulary.  There's a lot of material online, and a vocabulary-learning program I'm itching to try.  Alas, too busy this year.  I'm told that a dozen people speak Lojban to some extent.

Glosa:

Greek words, but Hogben's Interglossa has been revamped to such an extent that some have said that Glosa is almost a word-replacement code for English.  But there's now a webpage, check it out!

Klingon:

Created to be weird and difficult for humans, it is a success: it *is* weird and difficult for humans.  Apparently they even get the language wrong on Star Trek episodes.  Very popular for a short time, Trekkies might want to take the postal course (patterned on the 10-lesson Free Esperanto Course).

Novial:

The only (marginally) successful conlang designed by a famous linguist, O. Jespersen, who earlier helped develop Ido.  Novial has some Esperanto/Ido-like features, but OJ made a greater effort to take vocabulary (although not slavishly) from French/English/German.  Even after publishing, Jespersen couldn't stop tinkering with the language, and several later versions exist.  A periodical in Novial survived for a few years, but all activity ceased decades ago.  But lately an online group has been working on modifying and rejuvenating the language, and we expect great things any day now.  Bruce R. Gilson, referred to elsewhere in these annals, is one of the main proponents of Novial (having loved and left several other planned languages along the way).  (See Note 4)

Novial retains many bothersome complexities in the name of naturalness.  Some features might be regarded as an improvement over other conlangs, others a step backwards.  The emphasis on naturalness renders the language more complex than Esperanto, and probably more difficult to learn.

Summary:  Novial was created by a well-known linguist, but it did not generate a user base because (1) it wasn't enough better than the competition, (2) the author made too many changes after publication, falling into the "Ido trap".

For awhile I subscribed to the mailing list devoted to Novial and its modification, but my interest lay mainly in learning what Jespersen (a real linguist!) had done with the language, not the current batch of reform proposals.  I was also made to feel very unwelcome, as if somehow my judgment of Esperanto's utility made my interest in all other constructed languages suspect.   But fortunately this was not the attitude of most of the members, they're really a very nice crew!  And I especially appreciate all the hard work they've been doing in getting Novial information online.  The project is a worthy one, and I tried to help as I could.  Special thanks are due to James Chandler, who has made available an immense quantity of Novial information at his site, although he himself a supporter of Ido.

Interlingua - IALA:

Created by the International Auxiliary Language Association under the leadership of Alexander Gode, Interlingua is the only conlang planned by a committee on a fat budget.  IALA was originally funded (to a great extent by an Esperantist) to consider the "language problem", and at first compared existing planlingvoj in hopes of reaching a consensus and getting official backing for one IAL.  Under Gode, IALA turned to the creation of a new conlang, and disbanded after its completion.

Before the funds dried up, some medical journals could be found with Interlingua abstracts, a truly exciting prospect for the IAL movement!

Although Gode intended his language to be for the "average European", not as an IAL, modern proponents of the language generally see acceptance by Europeans as only the first step.

The vocabulary was chosen by a clever (and scientific) method: "extracting the international vocabulary" from English, French, Italian, and Spanish/Portuguese, with occasional reference to Latin, German or Russian as tie-breakers.  The value of the details of the process is not always self-evident:  why give Spanish and Portuguese together only one vote?  And there are more universal issues, such as why not allow international words that don't happen to be Latin/romance-based (such as Esperanto does).

Interlingua has high visual recognizability for speakers of romance languages (better initial
recognizability than Esperanto for westerners), but it's main weaknesses are that it (1) imported many irregularities and difficulties found in the romance languages, (2) is much harder to use (write, speak) than Esperanto, even for speakers of romance languages, since no attempt is made to use word-building as in Esperanto.  If a word exists in the source languages, it's in Interlingua!  Although there are lists of "suffixes", they are unusable in the sense of Esperanto's suffixes.  You basically have to learn all the words, using similar roots/suffixes as only indications of the meaning.  (See Note 5)

Thus the student must learn as much vocabulary as in any unplanned language, and although it may look familiar to her if she is Spanish or Italian, it will be less so for Portuguese, French or English, and in any case a large amount of memorization is required to learn the correct forms.  Those who do best with Interlingua have already studied two or more of the source languages.

Some Interlingua proponents avoid all conflict with Esperantists and other auxlangers by focussing on the use of Interlingua as "common vocabulary for the romance languages".  Thus you will read less anti-Esperanto propaganda when studying Interlingua than when investigating Ido, for instance.  Unfortunately, F.P. Gopsill, president (^cu?) of the British Interlingua Society, has written some highly inflammatory attacks on Esperanto, riddled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations.  This is all the more unfortunate since he claims to be fluent in Esperanto, and to have tried unsuccessfully to teach it to his language classes before switching to Interlingua.  [It is worth noting that these students had *already* been studying other languages (Latin or romance languages, we may safely assume).  Here are four zipped files [1/2/3/4] containing Rik Dalton's "Anatomy of a Failure - Interlingua Analysed" rebutting some of Gopsill's erroneous statements about Esperanto.  Beware, however!  Dalton in turn misunderstands some of Gopsill's statements, and therefore at times misrepresents Interlingua!  [Will it ever end?  To really learn about Interlingua-IALA, take the online course and then visit the "interlng" mailing list.]

Bruce R. Gilson wrote:

> The experiment has been done.  Read F. P. Gopsill's book on artificial languages available from the British Interlingua Society.  English school children were taught Interlingua far more quickly and accurately than Esperanto. <

Ken Caviness:
These are children who have already studied Latin or a modern Romance language, right?  Here the initial high recognizability of Interlingua (for those with a background in Romance languages) would be a definite factor.  Let's see a study that goes from zero to fluency.  I don't believe Interlingua would win then, even among speakers of latinidaj lingvoj [romance languages].

BRG quotes F.P. Gopsill:

> "... It was not this aspect [amateur's lapses] about Esperanto that disillusioned him and led him to carry out this research, but the practical side of having problems teaching a supposedly simple language to pupils who were already learning
other modern or classical languages. <

KC:  "other modern or classical languages".  *initial recognizability*  Q.E.D.

To me (native English-speaker, fairly fluent in French, beginning level Spanish) Interlingua is relatively easy to read, but I have to look up almost every single word in order write even the most basic of sentences.  I recommend the online course to anyone who is interested, but only expect to reach roughly one third the proficiency level that the 10-lesson Free Esperanto Course will give you.  Interlingua gives a "home court advantage" to westerners, but because language has problems with exceptions, complexities of spelling and pronunciation inherited from the source languages, and a massive vocabulary load, this initial advantage is soon squandered.

Ian Fantom <Ian /c`e/ mintex.demon.co.uk> raportas:

> But have you ever heard anyone speak Interlingua FLUENTLY? I went to an AGM of the British Interlingua Society, and it appeared that they had an -ata / -ita problem, and they stumbled over their words a lot. In fact the only one who did speak fluently turned out to be a Spaniard speaking Spanish!

The Esperantists who went out of curiosity outnumbered the Interlinguaists, were more mixed linguistically (including one Japanese) and spoke much more fluently than the Interlinguaists.  The Interlinguaists even said afterwards that they were impressed!

May I now add that I was under the impression that Alexander Gode had *intended* Interlingua to be only a written language, which could be read by all. I couldn't understand written Interlingua at the time (before I studied Italian), and I had no chance with spoken Interlingua, however hesitatingly it was spoken. Even now I only get the general idea of text in Interlingua without studying it carefully. <
 
Interlingua does not have a large number of supporters at this time, but there is at least one published periodical, a book service, and some excellent websites that have appeared recently!

For all those interested in Interlingua-IALA, I highly recommend the "interlng" mailing list, full of interesting, informative messages by interesting, intelligent and considerate people.

Ido:

Brief historical aside:

Ido was created as an offshoot of Esperanto, and retains many of its features.
Its supporters originally claimed that they were still using Esperanto, and demanded that all other Esperanto-speakers conform to their new usage.  But Esperanto was already being used widely and could no longer by changed by fiat, not even by its inventor, and certainly not by a group who seemed determined to unilaterally change some of the fundamental characteristics of the language.  The entire situation unfortunately left hard feelings on both sides, Esperantists feeling that the had been betrayed by those pretending to support Esperanto, Idists claiming that the Esperantists refusal to accept the modified language permanently crippled the auxiliary language movement.  If anyone wants more details of the "Delegation" and the creation of Ido, try here.

It is also noteworthy that Ido attracted only 3% of Esperantists at its inception.  Most did *not* approve of Ido's so-called improvements.

Ido has been under constant modification since then, and so has typically appealed to "conlang dabblers" rather than serious users.  Thus it has little literature and a very number of proponents, who are, none-the-less, quite vocal in their condemnation of Esperanto.

Considering the language Ido apart from any historical bias:

Productive set of suffixes allows word-building much as in Esperanto, but with stricter rules.  Proponents claim this is a significant improvement over Esperanto, others see it as needless quibbling.  (See Note 6)

Suffixes are added directly at the end of a word as in Esperanto, but prefixes are attached by means of hyphens.  It is claimed that this gives increased readability, but in view of the infrequency of Ido prefixes it is doubtful if this is worth the unsightly intrusion of the hyphen in "normal" (non-compound) words.

Prefixes are used less often than in Esperanto, resulting in an increased memory load for vocabulary learning.  Ido has relinquished Esperanto's strong stance here, importing new unnecessary words.  This arguably may be convenient for persons from whose native language the new words are borrowed, but even for them (and certainly for everyone else) the result is: more memorization.

Compare necessary "memorization units" for a series of words in Esperanto and in Ido:

Esperanto:                             Ido:
0.  "mal-" = opposite of (see Note 7) [0. "des-" = opposite of, cf. "dis-" = separation !]
1.  "alta"  = high                     1.  "alta" = high
==> "malalta" = low                    2.  "basa" = low
2.  "longa" = long                     3.  "longa" = long
==> "mallonga" = short                 4.  "kurta" = short
3.  "bela" = handsome, beautiful       5.  "bela" = handsome, beautiful
==> "malbela" = ugly                   6.  "leda" = ugly
4.  "granda" = big                     7.  "granda" = big
==> "malgranda" = small                8.  "mikra" = small
5.  "pura" = clean                     9.  "pura" = clean
==> "malpura" = dirty                  10. "sordida" = dirty
6.  "satas" = is full (not hungry)     11. "satas" = is full (not hungry)
==> "malsatas" = is hungry             12. "hungras" = is hungry

...

Clearly the prefix "mal-" gives us two words for the price of one, halving the memory load in Esperanto for a great number of words.  [For those who seem to think that there is something unnatural about using a prefix to reverse the meaning of a word, consider the English words "necessary" and "unnecessary", the English and French "possible" and "impossible", the German "möglich" and "unmöglich", and a host of others which are taken for granted in ethnic languages.]

A comparable situation exists with respect to other prefixes and suffixes.  Ido is very similar to Esperanto, it has the affixes, it has the power, but it does not make very good use of them, thus placing a much heavier burden of vocabulary learning on the student.

It is only fair to mention that some Esperantists prefer importing words from ethnic languages rather than using the traditional Esperanto-style word building.  But this adds an extra load on all for the slight convenience of a few and is contrary to the traditions of the language.

Ideologically it seems to me to be that an IAL should make very great (dare I say "maximal"?  no, just "very great") use of affixes and word-building.

Vocabulary:

In certain cases Esperanto used Germanic or Slavic root words, especially where no consensus exists among the "western" languages, or where a Latin or romance language word would result in some conflict with existing Esperanto words or confusion with common words in other languages.  [Such is the case with the word for "and":  to avoid all confusion inseparable with some variation of "et", "e", "y", "i", "and", "und", etc., which could easily be mistaken as parts of other words.  Esperanto uses "kaj" (rhymes with "sky") from the Greek, Ido returned to Latin-based "e" ("ed" before a vowel).]

Ido replaces all these Germanic and Slavic root words by words derived from Latin and the romance languages, giving in nice cozy feeling to westerners, but opening the door to confusions and misunderstandings for all.

Esperanto words which were thought to be difficult to pronounce are changed in Ido to less recognizable forms [e.g., "scienco" => "cienco"]  Yet in numerous other cases the Esperanto word was judged to be not sufficiently recognizable, and an "improved" Ido form was chosen, often at the expense of clarity.  This is by no means to say that Esperanto is perfect (it isn't), just that Ido's improvements generally aren't any improvement.  (See Note 8)

Marking parts of speech:

Ido made the accusative ending optional and eliminated adjectival concord.  These features have been found by speakers of Esperanto to provide great flexibility for poetry and translations from ethnic languages that do not easily fit the English sentence structure.  Experience and common-sense indicate that a simple rule/pattern can be learned once and subsequently used more easily than optional features involving extra complications and provizos.

Corelatives:

English-speakers notice an pattern in the "question words":  what, where, when, why, who  (The word "how" breaks the pattern, however).  This pattern is partially repeated in the demonstrative pronouns but then disappears:  that, there, then, ... [because/for that reason, that person, in that way].

These patterns are perfected and enlarged in Esperanto, giving 45 (9x5) words for the price of  13 memorization units (9 + 5 subtracting 1 overlap).  Ido's creators felt the need to revert to the chaotic system common in ethnic languages, i.e., you just have to memorize all 45 of thes words, any pattern which begins to appear fades away immediately.  (See Note 9 for a more detailed comparison of the two systems.)

Male/Female suffixes:

Ido uses -ul- as a masculine suffix, complementing the feminine suffix -in-.  This is a good feature, but other ways of handling the situation exist in Esperanto.  (See Note 10)

Conclusions:

There are two main areas in which (IMO) Ido is inferior to Esperanto for use as an easily learned IAL:  (1) lack of Esperanto's "-n" that allows freer word-order and ease of expression, (2) increased vocabulary load (corelatives, less productive use of affixes).

In summary, Ido was constructed by modifying certain features of Esperanto.  Some of the modifications are quite innocuous, a few are probably good, but a majority of them result in greater difficulty.  Over the course of the decades since its creation, Ido has been repeatedly modified to suit its current supporters, making impossible any continuity in the language.  Probably this explains why Ido (unlike Esperanto) has never developped of a user-base or a literature.

Various estimates of the number of Ido-speakers range from 200 - 500.  I understand that there are now 4 regularly published Ido periodicals, a book service sells books about or in Ido, and websites and an email list are now available!  Ido remains, with Interlingua IALA, one of the most "successful" constructed languages after Esperanto.


Footnotes:

1. When I first subscribed to the auxlang mailing list, I came under a great deal of ridicule because I chose to learn Esperanto.  Here is an excerpt from one of my early postings, defending my choice:

> 25 years ago I thought about learning a conlang, but saw the huge number of candidates and skipped it.  3 years ago I learned that there are 30,000 books in E-o, and I immediately began to study it.  Are my motivations so ridiculous?  I want to use an easy IAL _now_, not when the "experts" perfect it (as if that were possible).  And I continue to try to learn some Volapük, some Interlingua, some LsF, some Novial and Ido (if I could ever get something to start on).  <

2. Here, for your convenience, are links to pages comparing Esperanto unfavorably with other conlangs.
<http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Paolo_Castellina/Esperant.htm>
<http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/5037/chefaj.html>

Don Harlow's "How to Build a Language" also gives a great deal of information on these questions.  After carefully studying these and other materials, I became convinced that Esperanto is the best hope of the IAL movement.  This document explains why.  Don't take my word for all this, please make up your own mind!  And when you do, I hope to see you soon in an Esperanto newsgroup!

3.  Here I tried to explain my interest and amateur status on the conlang list:

To forestall any misunderstanding, let me explain that I am not an expert Esperantist.  After dabbling with Esperanto for a few months I could (more or less) read and write, though those who read soc.culture.esperanto know that I still make mistakes!  I don't think anyone would consider me an Esperanto fanatic:  My absolute bar-none favorite language is German (probably merely because it was the first language after my native [American] English, but also perhaps because it is quite logical).  I do like the idea of an universal second language, I like codes, ciphers, and secret languages, I was delighted by Tolkien's languages when I first read "The Lord of Rings" at age 13.  These are sufficient reasons for me to take the time to read the conlang list, but usually as a lurker, since I have _no_ experience or desire to create a language.

4. This posting helped me better understand Mr. Gilson's strong feelings on the conlang issue:  <BRGkial.txt>

5. Is Interlingua easier than Esperanto?  My answer is that Interlingua's initial recognizability *still* does not make it easy to learn.

maxval /c`e/ mbox.digsys.bg wrote:

> Let's speak Interlingua - it's the only really easy artificial language. It can be a real inter-European language, because it's practically reformed Latin, and Latin is one of the main bases of the common European culture: part of the European languages are based on Latin, another part has many Latin lexical elements, and even the third part has a culture strongly linked with Latin cultural heritage. So Interlingua is the better choice, it has no cult elements as Esperanto, it has very simple grammar, and has easy words that can be understood by any European person with an avarage education. <

I replied:

Interlingua has better first-time recognition for a western European than does Esperanto, but even for such "advantaged" people, it takes a long time to *use* it, writing as well as reading.  This is because Interlingua has a huge, illogical vocabulary, precisely because it is a combination of various Romance languages and consequently not as simple and logical as Esperanto.

> My native language is Hungarian, and you know, that Hungarian is not an Indo-European language, so it has absolutely no link to Latin, yet educated Hungarians can easily learn Interlingua. <

Perhaps you know that Esperanto is far more popular in Hungary than is Interlingua?

> Interlingua es multe melior que le Esperanto. <

What primarily makes Esperanto so much easier than Interlingua, over the medium and long timespan, is that in Esperanto *anyone* is allowed to put roots and affixes together to form new words, whereas in Interlingua you have to use your dictionary constantly.  Except for simplifying the conjugation of verbs, Interlingua is really no easier than Spanish or other Romance languages.

Sed ille es interesante lingua!  Are you familiar with the Interlingua email list?  Whether you are an advanced Interlinguaist, or a beginner, it is an excellent place to practice/use your knowledge of the language, with a friendly, helpful atmosphere.  Naturally there are far fewer people on the list than here on soc.culture.esperanto, but I encourage you to visit!

It isn't appropriate to continue this discussion on soc.culture.esperanto.  I'm sure you can appreciate that anti-Esperanto postings there are an all-to-common, but boring and annoying occurence.  Since far more people use Esperanto than all other planned languages put together, including Interlingua, you are bound to make some people angry by continuing such off-topic postings (spams).

Messages to the esperanto newsgroup should normally be IN Esperanto, but requests for information are welcomed in any language.  By the way, don't be afraid to post even if you're only a "komencanto", since s.c.e.-anoj are nice people, happy to correct or suggest improvements to messages if asked.  Stick around and your Esperanto will imporve very quickly!

If you wish to argue the merits of different planned languages, the best place is the Auxlang list.  If you wish to *use* Interlingua, the best group to join is the Interlingua mailing list.  If either of these interest you, I'd be happy to provide subscription instructions.

 ^Cion bonan / All the best!
 Ken

6.  Is the Ido suffix system more regular than Esperanto's?

Idists make heavy weather over the "kombi/kombilo - brosi/broso" asymmetry.  Briefly: the -i ending indicates a verb (infinitive), the -o ending indicates a noun, the infixed -il- indicates a tool.  Given the meanings of "kombi" (to comb) and "brosi" (to brush), it is crystal clear that "kombilo" is a tool (noun) related to combing, i.e., a comb.  But "broso" lacks the specific tool marker, so it is *some* noun related to brushing.  Is it the process?  No, the infix -ad- gives this meaning:  "brosado".  In fact, "broso" simply means "a brush".  In Ido such "slipshod" use of suffixes and endings is anathema by Ido's "Principo di renversebleso".

However Esperanto's "Principo de neceso kaj sufic^o" basically says "use as much as you need and as little as is sufficient to convey your meaning".

Edmund Grimley-Evans <etg10 /c`e/ cl.cam.ac.uk> on this topic:

There's nothing irregular about the word-formation in Esperanto; it's just that the rules weren't understood properly at the time that Ido was suggested as an "improvement". It's rather typical of the bad side of conlang people that, when presented with something that they don't understand in a language, they just assume it's irregular and try to change it instead of looking for the regularities that must exist - because otherwise we wouldn't be able to speak the language. (And people were already speaking Esperanto at that time.)

An adequate theory of Esperanto word-formation was first proposed by Rene de Saussure. (That's Ferdinand's younger brother, apparently.)

7. Yes, the use of "mal-" to mean "opposite of" instead of "bad" bothered me for five minutes when I first learned the language.  Then I adapted.  But if I were replacing it, I would not choose "des", which has other connotations for me.

8. Of course, there are some areas in which Ido seems no better but no worse than Esperanto, notably vocabulary that was changed from E-o to create Ido.  For instance: c^evalo - kavalo.  I recognise either one (cheval, cavalry) I don't care either way.  And many of the other words that were "improved" in Ido seemed fine to me in Esperanto.  Some are probably better in the Ido version, but I do sympathize with the idea of making minor changes to avoid clashes with suffixes (such as: limo - limito, orfo - orfano, etc.), although as you have pointed out, some such clashes still exist in Esperanto.  In other cases (such as using "e" instead of the distinctive "kaj") would seem to result in diminished comprehensibility.  I'm not claiming that Z's choices for vocabulary are by any means perfect, but I have noticed that often where he changed a root slightly or selected a non-Romance root, the possibilities from the Romance languages are quite dissimilar (not very international) or would result in other problems.  Vocabulary selection in Esperanto was certainly not scientifically done, it is more a work of art than of science, although not as haphazard as detracters claim.  For a scientifically selected vocabulary we must leave Esperanto & Ido and move to Interlingua, but the method used there, although superior in theory, gives rise to other difficulties.

9. The complete table of corelatives in Esperanto is:

           WHAT   THAT  SOME    NO     EVERY
THING      kio    tio    io    nenio    ^cio
PERSON     kiu    tiu    iu    neniu    ^ciu
TYPE       kia    tia    ia    nenia    ^cia
PLACE      kie    tie    ie    nenie    ^cie
REASON     kial   tial   ial   nenial   ^cial
TIME       kiam   tiam   iam   neniam   ^ciam
WAY        kiel   tiel   iel   neniel   ^ciel
POSSESSIVE kies   ties   ies   nenies   ^cies
QUANTITY   kiom   tiom   iom   neniom   ^ciom

Thus "kie" = what place / where, and "neniu" = no person / no-one, etc.

"here" is formed by adding the particle "^ci":  tie = there,   tie ^ci = here.
"any"  is formed by adding the particle "ajn":  iu  = someone, iu ajn  = anyone.

Notice that in Esperanto, one only has to learn a sample word from one column and one row (say the first column and first row)

kio / kiu / kia / kie / kial / kiam / kiel / kies / kiom  = 9 words
kio / tio / io / nenio / ^cio = 5 words  (but only gives 13 words total)

Adding the particles "^ci" (here) and "ajn" (any) for gives a total of 63 words formed, yet *only 15 words to learn!*

[Don't try to memorize these 15 words on the spot, there are useful mnemonic tricks that make it even easier!  It took me very little time to feel comfortable with all of the derivable words.]

The corresponding table in Ido is:

         WHAT     THAT    SOME        ANY          NO          EVERY
PERSON   qua/i    (i)ta/i ulu(i)      irgu/i       nulu/i      omnu/i
THING    quo/i    (i)to/i ulo/i       irgo/i       nulo/i      omno/i
PLACE    ube      ibe     ul-loke     irga-loke    nul-loke    omna-loke
TIME     kande    lore    ul-tempe    irga-tempe   nul-tempe   sempre
WAY      quale    tale    ul-maniere  irga-maniere nul-maniere omna-maniere
REASON   pro quo  pro to  pro ulo     pro irgo     pro nulo    pro omno
QUANTITY quanto/e tanto/e ul-quanto/e irga-quanto/e nulo/e      omno/e

Among 42 words there are at least 22 informational units, and in practice each word must be memorized since one is never certain if a pattern is being followed through or not.

Nor are the words particularly recognizable!  (Ido routinely gives up regularity for recognizability, but here we have neither.)

Of these I get "quanto" from E:"quantity", "kande" from F:"quand", but I still have to learn them, since I get them confused.  (I presume that using "kande" instead of "quande" was intended to alleviate the confusion, but in my opinion it just makes things worse.  "nul-" I understand right away, and "omn-" makes sence if I can get myself to remember that "omniverous" means "eating everything".  But it's not automatic for me.  And "ube", "quale", "ibe", "lore", "tale", "ul-", "irg-", mean nothing to me.  I like the "qua/ta", "quo/to" parallel, but we lose it after that (even the vowel changes), and  altogether I never know whether to tack on a word or suffix "pro", "-loke", "-tempe", "-maniere", or hold out for a separate word "kande", "quanto", "sempre", "ube", "quale", "ibe", "lore", "tale".  And I see "ulo / ul-loke" and "nulo / nul-loke", but "irgo / irgA-loke", "omno / omnA-loke", so even where I think things are regular they aren't!

After Esperanto it just looks *very* complicated.  Especially since I don't recognise all these new words, it's hard for me to understand how anyone can view this as an improvement.

In French most of the question words start with "qu-" (/k/ sound).  Even in English we have a semblance of structure:

what, where, when, why,     who*,        how**
that, there, then, because, that person, in that way

Doesn't that pattern look nice at the beginning?  And then "who" is pronounced wrong, and "how" doesn't fit the pattern at all!  The comparison between the interrogative and demonstrative pronouns starts off in a promising manner, but fizzles out almost before it gets started.  Yes, all the ethnic languages I have studied have similar irregularities, but surely we can expect a conlang to do better, ^cu ne?

No, I'm convinced that a simple pattern relating these frequently used words can only be beneficial in a conlang.  This is one feature of Esperanto which I loved on sight:  it does the job right, whereas English just tantalizes us.

10.  Idists make heavy weather over the asymetrical situation in Esperanto:

Esperanto has a very productive suffix which makes a masculine or arbitrary noun feminine:  patro (father) / patrino (mother), princo (prince) / princino (princess), instruisto/intruistino, kato/katino.  (Compare with the English "hero/heroine", "Ernest/Ernestine", etc.)  Unlike the haphazard application in English (feminine indicated by "-ine", "-ess", or nothing), this Esperanto suffix can be used anywhere it is needed.  However, some people have complained of this "sexist" feature of Esperanto, namely that the basic word is masculine, and an ending is needed to make it feminine.  Now the prefix "vir-" has always been available in Esperanto for cases when one needed to insist on the male gender:  koko (chicken), kokino (hen), virkoko (cock, rooster).  The current trend seems to be to interpret the base word "koko" as gender unspecified, and add the appropriate affix as needed.  Thus over the years more and more, words have been interpreted as gender-neutral, such as instruisto (teacher), studento, etc.  But this has not extended to such common words as patro (father), frato (brother), filo (son), etc.

Ironically, the Ido "-ul-" cannot be used in Esperanto, since it already means "person of unspecified gender"!  Esperantists desiring more symmetry in the language have tried to introduce some other masculine suffix, such as "-ab-" (some confusion with existing words), and "-i^c-".  The latter gives "-i^c-"/"-in-" a pleasing additional symmetry with the inflectional endings "-^cjo" and "-njo" which are added to the first few letters of any name or other noun to form nicknames:  "Pa^cjo" (Daddy, Papa) / "Panjo" (Mommy, Mama).  According to this revision, "patro" would mean "parent", not "father", and "father" would be "patri^co", corresponding with "mother" = "patrino".

It is worth noting that many ethnic languages build the feminine from the masculine form, such as the Spanish "hermano" (brother), "hermana" (sister), "hermanos" (brothers, or brothers and sisters), "hermanas" (sisters).  But no-one (to my knowledge) is lobbying to change this feature of Spanish or labelling all speakers of the language as sexist.  The bottom line is that vocabulary learning in Esperanto is reduced by the "-in-" suffix, it is "natural" (comes from an ethnic language), and symmetry, while aesthetically pleasing, is not as important as ease of use in a planned language.  Having said that, let me add:

I myself like the proposed revision (which exhibits even more pleasing symmetry than the Ido suffix), but am unwilling to see such a drastic change in Esperanto at this point.  In my opinion the most important factors in Esperanto's success is its relative stability and extensive literature.  Now is not the time to fiddle with the language:  since we can never "please all the people all the time", it is more important to use and support the language as "dua lingvo por ^ciuj" (second language for everyone).  Start making changes and we'll be on the slippery downhill path Ido followed, with never-ending modifications and as a result, no users.  That path leads to never having a world-wide international auxiliary language.


 ^Gisdatigita je la 29a de marto 1999 fare de Ken Caviness     --    Bonvolu averti min pri eraroj!