Newspaper articles from 1910 and 1924 on Ido and Esperanto

Monday, April 12, 2010

Did a bit of digging around this morning through some old newspapers and came across two articles on the two languages that are little different from discussions one sees on Ido and Esperanto today. The only difference between the situation then and now is that Ido has been stable since around the 1920s, so the pro-Esperanto piece written in 1924 was written when it was easy to think that Ido would simply go on changing. The Kompleta Gramatiko Detaloza was published a year after.

And now to the articles. First from The Logansport Pharos, Saturday January 29, 1910. This article has some classic Jespersen in it, with the argument that an IAL (later written in An International Language on Novial) may not be as rich as that used by L1 speakers, but is much better than the languages they use as L2s.


New Language Said to Be More Scientific Than Esperanto.

If you have been burning the midnight oil to learn Esperanto, enrich the Standard Oil company no longer. That language may do to use when you accidentally hit your finger with the tack hammer and on similar occasions, but to be up to date you must learn Ido. This is the very newest of the languages to be imported to this country and guaranteed all wool, and in the opinion of Professor Otto Jespersen of the University of Copenhagen it is bound to be the universal language some day. The professor is the inventor of Ido, and he is now in America promoting it in a series of lectures at Columbia university.

Ido, the professor admits, is not as rich as English, as elegant as French, as powerful as German or as beautiful as Italian, but he insists it is more elegant than the Englishman's French, richer than the Frenchman's English, more beautiful than the German's Italian and a hundred percent more powerful than the Italian's German. And it is much more scientific than Esperanto, he says. For instance, the one word "beloza" in Ido means beautiful, handsome, sweet, dear, nice, and so on. Just think of the time Ido would save a busy man in writing love letters!

Some of the linguists and faddists who have heard the professor lecture on and talk Ido also declare that it is to be the new world language. In the meantime most of us will continue to give our opinion of the trusts and high food prices in the good old English language.

So that was 1910. Now let's move forward to 1924, to the Manitoba Free Press on 1 March where an Esperantist gives his opinion on a column written previously that seems to be advocating ditching Esperanto in favour of Ido (I'll be looking for that column next). Here it is:

From An Esperantist's Viewpoint

"Esperantist" writes:  "The article which appeared on the Radio page of the Free Press recently, under the heading "Ilo is no descendant of anything" was very interesting -- and amusing! The author apparently went to a great deal of trouble in collecting Esperanto sentences after the style of those English sentences "Around the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran" and "She sells sea shells on the sea shore." He even went to the extent of using the words "thou" and "thine" in place of "you" and "yours." Then in Not (1) he indulges in a loud laugh -- probably at this display of ingenuity.

"Let us examine this question of being a "descendant." Suppose I write to the author regarding a text-book, what would he recommend? O.O. Roos recommends "Complete Manual of the auxiliary language Ido." IDO not ILO. Apparently the Idisto-ists cannot even agree on the name of their language. What does "Ido" mean? It means in other words "a descendant." L. de Beaufront, who produced "Ido" (while officially representing Esperanto, by the way) must have used the name "Ido" to denote that his project was the offspring of Esperanto. He must have realized that there was a certain distinction in being even distantly related to the real international auxiliary language, Esperanto. Hence the word "Ido," "a descendant" (of Esperanto). The rather disgraceful incidents surrounding the birth of the new project seem to be best forgotten -- hence the attempt to discard the name "Ido" and substitute the sweeting smelling "Ilo."

"In Notes (2) and (3) the author naively invites us to a linguistic game of "put and take." Put a little on here, take a little off there! We are asked to lend our support to a project which is still being altered, changed, "improved." Oh, these so-called improvements! The "improvements" may cause people to have to learn the thing over and over, but what's the odds! Put and take, boy, put and take!"

"Let us be serious. Esperanto has proved its merits in actual use. It is endorsed by important bodies: the international Red Cross, most Chambers of Commerce, including London and Paris, the important American Radio Relay league, and -- but the list would fill a column. Esperanto is stable, a majestic liner steaming to its distination, not a cockle shell tossed here and there by the winds and waves. A letter written in Esperanto is read and understood -- no guessing, no puzzling, does this mean "so-and-so"; is this a new "Improvement", this must have been changed last week, etc. A person of any nationality can express his thoughts in Esperanto and use his usual order of words; there can be no misunderstanding. Telegrams and cablegrams can be written in Esperanto. Information can be obtained from almost any city in the world by means of Esperanto; there are hundreds of resident consuls -- right now, not "may be some time in the future." Finally, Esperanto represents to the Esperantists not merely a tool to be used in the interests of commerce, but a living language with a literature as large as that of some countries. A language with an ennobling spirit of brotherhood, of peace on earth, goodwill toward man."

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