Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

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Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by Steve » 28 Nov 2015 23:12

For the past 20+ years, I have been involved with conlangs (specifically, IALs) in one form or another. The closest that I have come to learning an IAL has been Ido. However, there are some aspects of Ido (as far as I have learned) that just befuddle me to the point where I have given up trying to learn the language. Before I endeavor to introduce my own reforms of the language, though, I would like some perspective from others to see if my concerns are founded or not.

In brief:
  • I have no idea what the decision was to end most adverbs with -e but not all of them. I understand that there are 'natural' and 'derived' adverbs and that the derived adverbs all end in -e but why not all of them? If all of the adjectives end in -a and most of the adverbs end in -e, why not just have all of them end in -e?
  • Practically all pre-Internet IALs use the Long Scale form of counting numbers. As someone coming from a nation that uses Short Scale, this is unacceptable and, dare I write, unacceptable to a lot of other people. People can bend over backwards for a lot of things when learning a language but being forced to use "miliardo" (or some form of that) instead of "biliono" is just a deal-breaker. Why not have something that accommodates both scales?
  • In Ido, -n can be used to mark the object when the sentence is not strictly SVO. However, this rule isn't evenly applied with question words. Only the question word qua/qui/quo needs this ending when the question word represents the object but the others don't even when representing the object. In my view, a rule should apply evenly or not be used at all, especially in a constructed IAL that doesn't rely on legacy natural language rules.
As I wrote, perhaps I just need a different perspective on this and am wondering what those perspectives might be. Thank you.

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by Lambuzhao » 28 Nov 2015 23:31

I don't know much about Esperanto, and even less about Esperantido.

But, I am familiar with a linguist named Alan Reed Libert, who wrote an interesting book called Artificial Descendants of Latin (2004) Lincom Europa.
Here's a link to a synopsis of the book, with further links to some of the chapters:

http://ial.wikia.com/wiki/Artificial_De ... s_of_Latin


Well, in 2008, Libert wrote a book that might be more up your alley: Daughters of Esperanto. You might want to check your nearest university library for it, or like me, make an inter-library loan for it, if you haven't done so already.

I believe you can request a PDF of the book here:
http://www.academia.edu/192074/Daughters_of_Esperanto

Bonŝanco / Good Luck!

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by elemtilas » 29 Nov 2015 01:26

Steve wrote:For the past 20+ years, I have been involved with conlangs (specifically, IALs) in one form or another. The closest that I have come to learning an IAL has been Ido. However, there are some aspects of Ido (as far as I have learned) that just befuddle me to the point where I have given up trying to learn the language. Before I endeavor to introduce my own reforms of the language, though, I would like some perspective from others to see if my concerns are founded or not.
If you haven't already, do join the Auxlang list, which I think might be more in tune with your serious IAL interests more than CBB which seems mostly to be the domain of artlangers and world builders. https://listserv.brown.edu/archives/auxlang.html
  • I have no idea what the decision was to end most adverbs with -e but not all of them. I understand that there are 'natural' and 'derived' adverbs and that the derived adverbs all end in -e but why not all of them? If all of the adjectives end in -a and most of the adverbs end in -e, why not just have all of them end in -e?
I would hazard the guess, judging from the (possibly incomplete) list of Ido adverbs at Wiktionary, that etymology accounts for most if not all instances of null ending adverbs. Mem < Fr. mème; jus < Engl just. Maxim and minim are a bit of a poser, as there are already Latin adverbs maxime and minime...so who knows!? Perhaps they were imitating Latin adverbs in -im, but I see no statim, etc. Ja is clearly descended from Latin iam, and I can only guess that they didn't like the looks of either *jae or *jame! Tro is clearly, ultimately, a pronunciation borrowing from French trop. Many seem to be taken directly from E-o (as I understand it, Ido's direct ancestor), so no worries there.

These are just knock-on effects of "reforming" and borrowing words from natural languages like French or, anymore, Esperanto. The only way to get around these things is to either come up with your own perfect IAL (and for Pete sake, don't propagandise its perfection here!) or else join the movement of some already existing IAL and spearhead a reform movement from within. If enough people like your ideas, you'll be at the head of your own reformed IAL! And, in time, if enough people are still using your language, they will change it all around to suit the needs of the community, as we see with E-o. [;)]

[*] Practically all pre-Internet IALs use the Long Scale form of counting numbers. As someone coming from a nation that uses Short Scale, this is unacceptable and, dare I write, unacceptable to a lot of other people. People can bend over backwards for a lot of things when learning a language but being forced to use "miliardo" (or some form of that) instead of "biliono" is just a deal-breaker. Why not have something that accommodates both scales?
Again, I would hazard the guess that this is because the hot-house of the IAL movement in general is Europe and not North America. Given that that is the native counting scale in countries where the IAL movement is oldest, and where the first widely spread IALs were made, it stands to reason that that counting scale is what is found in those IALs.

I do agree with you, however, that a truly international auxlang ought to a) conform itself to some kind of scientific standards and b) allow for different regionalisms such as already exist.
[*] In Ido, -n can be used to mark the object when the sentence is not strictly SVO. However, this rule isn't evenly applied with question words. Only the question word qua/qui/quo needs this ending when the question word represents the object but the others don't even when representing the object. In my view, a rule should apply evenly or not be used at all, especially in a constructed IAL that doesn't rely on legacy natural language rules.[/list]
Dunno.
As I wrote, perhaps I just need a different perspective on this and am wondering what those perspectives might be. Thank you.
Hope I was able to shed at least some light or bring a slightly different perspective to your queries! Well, my perspective is that of an artlanger. I have absolutely zero interest in auxlang politics (which is largely why I have steered clear of the Auxlang list for the last fifteen plus years or so); though I have often found auxlang design and construction discussions at times amusing or even interesting.

I did the E-o postal course maybe 20 years ago or so, so I am not entirely unconnected to Auxland; just don't have any use for IALs. I satisfied myself years ago that no constructed auxlang will ever defeat an already existing natural language for intercommunity or international communications without hiring its own army and taking over the world by force. Right now the premier auxlang du jour is English, and the only thing that will ever shift it from that position is a clear change of social, economic, political & military hegemony from the US (and its natively English speaking allies) to some other great power bloc.

I also believe that it is unlikely that, among constructed IALs, that any will ever truly unseat E-o from its position. It has time on its side, as well as a vast and native literature and native speakers. It may not be the best, but it seems to me that it is the strongest and best known.

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by gestaltist » 30 Nov 2015 10:07

Regarding Short Scale, a truly international auxlang would have to invent its own words for large numbers, I feel. Using Long Scale alienates English speakers, using Short Scale alienates all of continental Europe.

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by cntrational » 30 Nov 2015 15:22

Metric prefixes would be alright.

I don't think English would go away even if the US declined. For one, it'd still be a major power, and so would the rest of native Anglophonia. Not to mention non-native Anglophonia, like India or South Africa, which use English as a major language, and all the existing second language speakers elsewhere.

English can be the Latin of the next few hundred years, and only then be replaced by other languages, perhaps one of English's own descendants. Perhaps it will be used indefinitely due to computer language processing, as "ANSI Standard English".

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by Micamo » 30 Nov 2015 23:08

Pata, sainara wa "#define" ne?

Father, what does "#define" mean?

Hainaraga zudo, bizorudo gasuno laspinde kile.

I don't know son, constant declaration has always been done that way.
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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by Xing » 01 Dec 2015 00:45

Steve wrote:
[*] Practically all pre-Internet IALs use the Long Scale form of counting numbers. As someone coming from a nation that uses Short Scale, this is unacceptable and, dare I write, unacceptable to a lot of other people. People can bend over backwards for a lot of things when learning a language but being forced to use "miliardo" (or some form of that) instead of "biliono" is just a deal-breaker. Why not have something that accommodates both scales?
Why exactly would this be "unacceptable"?? Why would a form like "biliono" be less "unacceptable" than "miliardo"? Would it be less "unacceptable" if people whose L1 used the long scale (or some non-western system) would be "forced" to use the short scale, than vice versa?

What do you think a system accommodating both scales would look like? Could it also accommodate other, non-western scales?

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by Steve » 01 Dec 2015 22:13

I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback so far.

As for the specific topic of long scale / short scale, "unacceptable" might seem unusually direct as an appraisal but, in this case, it is warranted. As mentioned earlier, people are willing to learn different grammar rules in order to learn a language but a lot of people feel as though math is untouchable. 2+2=4... 20<30... and, for a lot of people 1,000,000,000 = 1 billion. In older days, the difference between short scale and long scale was trivial because people rarely counted into the billions. However, monetary inflation, a greater appreciation of interstellar space, human population and computer technology have made the "what's a billion?" debate more relevant.

If the intended conlang is an IAL, it's not enough to create a language to prove a point or a hypothesis; You have to get people to speak and write in it. If there is a grammatical area of that language that causes people not to write or speak it then it needs changing.

As for a proposed reform, one possibility is the path of least resistance: If you are speaking or writing locally, use the terms that you are used to without modification ("me vendis la kato por du biliono" yes, expensive cat...). If you are speaking or writing and you want no ambiguity, use the words "short" or "long" (or an abbreviation) in front of the term for absolute clarity ("me vendis la kato por du longa biliono / lo-biliono" = "I sold the cat for 2 billion [long scale]" "me vendis la kato por du kurta biliono / ku-biliono [short scale]").

In this reform, everyone gets what they want; The long scale people have a method to express long scale, the short scale people have a method to express short scale and everyone can write and speak normally if they so choose without extensive modification. Any ambiguity is cleared up with sufficient ease by using an additional prefix.

And just to instigate more conversation, here are more thoughts of reform:
  • The elimination of "tu" (the "personal" form of 'you,' used only in French so far as I know)
  • Reforming the rules for asking questions (One possibility is to use "ka" in front of all question sentences [sort of like using an upside-down question mark in front of Spanish questions] and using the interrogative pronoun in place of the actual word in the affirmative sentence, such as "Ube la kato esas?" / "Ka la kato esas ube?" ["Where the cat is? / The cat is where?"]. This would preserve SVO word order without resorting for the need to add -n to qua/qui/quo for when those words are the object).
Again, thank you for the feedback so far.
Xing wrote:
Steve wrote:
[*] Practically all pre-Internet IALs use the Long Scale form of counting numbers. As someone coming from a nation that uses Short Scale, this is unacceptable and, dare I write, unacceptable to a lot of other people. People can bend over backwards for a lot of things when learning a language but being forced to use "miliardo" (or some form of that) instead of "biliono" is just a deal-breaker. Why not have something that accommodates both scales?
Why exactly would this be "unacceptable"?? Why would a form like "biliono" be less "unacceptable" than "miliardo"? Would it be less "unacceptable" if people whose L1 used the long scale (or some non-western system) would be "forced" to use the short scale, than vice versa?

What do you think a system accommodating both scales would look like? Could it also accommodate other, non-western scales?

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by qwed117 » 01 Dec 2015 22:33

The elimination of "tu" (the "personal" form of 'you,' used only in French so far as I know
Tu is also found in Spanish and Italian. I think Sardinian also has tu (as tue) and a separate formal form, but I'm not too sure. I think Japanese also does this too.
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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by abi » 01 Dec 2015 23:05

Steve wrote: The elimination of "tu" (the "personal" form of 'you,' used only in French so far as I know)
Formal vs Personal you is pretty much used in all IE but english, and exists in many non IE languages as well. Also variants of "tu" is universal in european languages, again, except english. (Germanic "du", Slavic "ty", Romanic "tu", etc.) So if anything you should get rid of the formal which varies between languages more than the personal does.
Steve wrote: (One possibility is to use "ka" in front of all question sentences [sort of like using an upside-down question mark in front of Spanish questions]
Esperanto already has a word for that, its ĉu. It doesn't change word order, it makes any statement into a question by adding it to the beginning of a sentence: "La kato estas en la tablo" The cat is on the table. > "Ĉu la kato estas en la tablo?" Is the cat on the table?

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by cntrational » 02 Dec 2015 03:34

"Acessibility" is overrated, like you can ever objectively create something like that. What matters is learnability, and that's a different concept.

A philosophical auxlang wouldn't use English words, but a practical one would. You're not making an alternate universe where English never existed and your conlang is the world language, you're making something for now. Use English words.

You don't need to be horribly nitpicky about grammar. Real languages are flexible and non-schematic, and exist in real life; it may not make sense that "me", "you", and "them" are so different in form from a schematic view, but it makes sense from the real world, because they counter against noise.

What trips people up is not grammar, but semantics. Remember when a user was berated for saying "the gays", when they couldn't've known that that was not permitted? You're far better off working on that for an auxlang, or for that matter an artlang. The focus on morphosyntax is an artifact of early languages like Volapük and Esperanto, which in turn are artifacts of classical grammatical tradition.

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by Khemehekis » 02 Dec 2015 10:07

cntrational wrote:Remember when a user was berated for saying "the gays", when they couldn't've known that that was not permitted?
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=4963&p=204512&hilit=gays#p204512

Actually, the wording wasn't "the gays", it was "Gays do not exist in the conworlds".
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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by elemtilas » 02 Dec 2015 14:39

Steve wrote:I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback so far.

As for the specific topic of long scale / short scale, "unacceptable" might seem unusually direct as an appraisal but, in this case, it is warranted. As mentioned earlier, people are willing to learn different grammar rules in order to learn a language but a lot of people feel as though math is untouchable. 2+2=4... 20<30... and, for a lot of people 1,000,000,000 = 1 billion. In older days, the difference between short scale and long scale was trivial because people rarely counted into the billions. However, monetary inflation, a greater appreciation of interstellar space, human population and computer technology have made the "what's a billion?" debate more relevant.
Some might prefer a hundred crore -- but I guess such things have no place in an IAL!! [;)] http://dd508hmafkqws.cloudfront.net/sit ... c/MATA.jpg [O.O]

Also, monetary inflation is nothing new: http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/cur ... 1223215700 and also this: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/73 ... e4449a.jpg Even the Romans certainly had numeral systems that could allow them to work into the hundreds of millions.


If the intended conlang is an IAL, it's not enough to create a language to prove a point or a hypothesis; You have to get people to speak and write in it. If there is a grammatical area of that language that causes people not to write or speak it then it needs changing.
Well, this has for a very long time been an area of discussion / disputation / outraged argumentation / flamewarmongering among auxlangers certainly for as long as they have been on the Internet, and Usenet before that and all the way back to the International Congresses before that! And, for a similarly long time, it's the one great Question that has nagged at, pestered and ultimately foiled every IAL movement since (and including) Esperanto -- how dó you get people who might be able to use a constructed IAL to shift away from one of the available natural IALs?

So far, the usual answer has simply been to devise yet another constructed IAL and advertise it, snake-oil wise, as the One True Panacaea for all the world's communicative problems. To my knowledge, no auxlanger has ever actually addressed the underlying issues.
As for a proposed reform, one possibility is the path of least resistance: If you are speaking or writing locally, use the terms that you are used to without modification ("me vendis la kato por du biliono" yes, expensive cat...). If you are speaking or writing and you want no ambiguity, use the words "short" or "long" (or an abbreviation) in front of the term for absolute clarity ("me vendis la kato por du longa biliono / lo-biliono" = "I sold the cat for 2 billion [long scale]" "me vendis la kato por du kurta biliono / ku-biliono [short scale]").

In this reform, everyone gets what they want; The long scale people have a method to express long scale, the short scale people have a method to express short scale and everyone can write and speak normally if they so choose without extensive modification. Any ambiguity is cleared up with sufficient ease by using an additional prefix.
Giving everyone they want without making anyone happy and without actually solving a problem! Are you a politician?? [;)]
And just to instigate more conversation, here are more thoughts of reform:

The elimination of "tu" (the "personal" form of 'you,' used only in French so far as I know)
If by "tu" you actually mean "second person singular personal pronoun", then just about every language in the world, including English, has some means of expressing this idea. In some forms of English, we have a common form for second person singular and second person plural: you ~ you; in others, there are distinct forms: you ~ yall or tha ~ you. French certainly has tu ~ vous; Spanish tu ~ vosotros; Tagalog has ikáw ~ kayó.

Not sure about the logic behind eliminating a whole category of expression...but I'm hazarding the guess it's because SAE (Standard American English) lacks the distinction that you feel an IAL must impose the same want on the whole world! (Also another well known foible of auxlangers that I've met!)

Reforming the rules for asking questions (One possibility is to use "ka" in front of all question sentences [sort of like using an upside-down question mark in front of Spanish questions] and using the interrogative pronoun in place of the actual word in the affirmative sentence, such as "Ube la kato esas?" / "Ka la kato esas ube?" ["Where the cat is? / The cat is where?"]. This would preserve SVO word order without resorting for the need to add -n to qua/qui/quo for when those words are the object).
Why not just explicitly say / write "Let me ask:..." or "I ask you:..." and then the respondent says "I answer:..."? No issues of prosody or SV inversion -- because those things would then be optional and at the natural discretion of the speaker.

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by Xing » 02 Dec 2015 18:15

Steve wrote:I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback so far.

As for the specific topic of long scale / short scale, "unacceptable" might seem unusually direct as an appraisal but, in this case, it is warranted. As mentioned earlier, people are willing to learn different grammar rules in order to learn a language but a lot of people feel as though math is untouchable. 2+2=4... 20<30... and, for a lot of people 1,000,000,000 = 1 billion.
The examples are not analogous. That 2+2=4 is a language-independent mathematical fact. That 1,000,000,000 is called a "billion" in English (but, for instance, a "miljard" in Swedish) is a linguistic fact. That numbers have different names in different languages has nothing to do with mathematics – and it's something something that you have to cope with if you want to learn a different language.

(And I still wonder why it would be less "unacceptable" that non-English speakers would have to learn the short scale?? Like, why could not English use the same system as other major European languages; why must they mess things up by having a different system??)

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by cntrational » 03 Dec 2015 14:39

In my experience, numbers are the toughest to wrap your head around fluently in another language -- but those tend to be smaller scale differences, like "quatre-vingt et onze" vs "ninety-one". I've only seen people get confused when encountering large numbers in dialects like Indian English, where "crore" and "lakh" are used, but that's because they're dialects, not separate languages.

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by Ephraim » 04 Dec 2015 18:12

elemtilas wrote:
And just to instigate more conversation, here are more thoughts of reform:

The elimination of "tu" (the "personal" form of 'you,' used only in French so far as I know)
If by "tu" you actually mean "second person singular personal pronoun", then just about every language in the world, including English, has some means of expressing this idea. In some forms of English, we have a common form for second person singular and second person plural: you ~ you; in others, there are distinct forms: you ~ yall or tha ~ you. French certainly has tu ~ vous; Spanish tu ~ vosotros; Tagalog has ikáw ~ kayó.

Not sure about the logic behind eliminating a whole category of expression...but I'm hazarding the guess it's because SAE (Standard American English) lacks the distinction that you feel an IAL must impose the same want on the whole world! (Also another well known foible of auxlangers that I've met!)
I don't think it's the singular–plural distinction that's in question, but the familiar–formal distinction. Ido has three second person pronouns:

tu = 2sg familiar
vu = 2sg formal
vi = 2pl familiar and formal

Esperanto apparently had a similar distinction that's no longer used. From Wikipedia:
"ci, while technically the familiar form of the word "you" in Esperanto, is almost never used. 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"."

Instead, Esperanto apparently has vi for both singular and plural regardless of formality. I haven't studied Ido or Esperanto but just from a quick look at some Ido courses, it seems that the tu–vu distinction is actually used in Ido (although I'm not familiar with the more specific rules), unlike in Esperanto. So I assume the proposal for Ido is to remove the familiar tu and always use the formal vu as a 2sg pronoun (although the reverse – removing vu and keeping tu as suggested above – might not be such a bad idea). Not having a formality distinction in pronouns seems very sensible to me for an IAL, it certainly makes things a lot easier.
abi wrote:Formal vs Personal you is pretty much used in all IE but english, and exists in many non IE languages as well.
I was wondering how widespread this distinction is and it seems like most modern IE languages do have a T/V distinction in pronouns (although the V-pronoun is not necessarily a second person pronoun originally, of course). Some may even have more than a two-way contrast (Hindi–Urdu and Bengali apparently have three levels). But English is certainly not the only IE language that lacks the distinction. The North Germanic languages generally don't use formal pronouns nowadays, the singular du/þú/tú-forms are typically considered polite in all contexts. Also, I think Irish and Afrikaans rarely use the formal pronouns nowadays.

Swedish hasn't really had a widespread polite formal 2p pronoun in the last 200 years. Until the 1960s, the formal way to adress someone in most circles was to use a title (and there were a lot of them) in place of a pronoun, or to use something like a passive construction to avoid titles and pronouns. In some circles, you could use Ni (the 2pl pronoun) as a polite pronoun, but in it was probably more common to only use Ni to adress people of a lower social rank. Many older people still consider Ni to be quite rude for this reason.

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by Squall » 05 Dec 2015 15:08

I prefer Esperanto to Ido and I have an Esperanto reform.

There are many manners of controlling the word order. You do not need an accusative suffix, you can mark the verb in the passive voice if you want other word orders.

The best way to get rid of false-friend cognates, such as "billion", is to invent new words to replace them.
I prefer short scale, because it is simple. However, the names in short scale are bad, because "billion" should have twice more digits than "million" and "trillion" should have three times.
You could use metric/Greek roots for numbers instead: kilo mega giga tera...

Distinction between 2sg and 2pl is important. It is useful when you talk with a person and the other people are absent.
Levels of formality will be confusing for learners of IAL., therefore you should avoid it. Learners would learn the polite form first and will not have any need of using the informal form.
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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by masako » 06 Dec 2015 01:27

I am an advocate for Lingua Franca Nova over all other Romance auxlangs. It's simple, euphonic, and can be learned in a few days (or hours if you are already familiar with Romlangs).

Seriously, check it out:

http://lfn.wikia.com/wiki/Paje_xef

http://lfn.wikia.com/wiki/Grammar_of_LFN

http://elefen.org/disionario/

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by pittmirg » 14 Dec 2015 17:35

Squall wrote: Levels of formality will be confusing for learners of IAL., therefore you should avoid it. Learners would learn the polite form first and will not have any need of using the informal form.
Speaking from my own experience, T/V can be a big pain in the ass even for the native speakers of languages with it (when they find themselves in a new social situation). This is one feature I like in English, that formality is optional and it's much easier to speak in a relatively neutral way.
if you can't decline it or conjugate it, piss on it.

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Re: Reforming Ido - Worth the Effort?

Post by masako » 17 Dec 2015 12:26

pittmirg wrote:This is one feature I like in English, that formality is optional and it's much easier to speak in a relatively neutral way.
This is highly situational. Many formal interactions avoid the use of pronouns altogether.

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