Lecture | Com(parative) Syn(tax) Series
Negation in the work of De Ruyter and Hooft: Negation in 17th century Dutch intra-speaker variation
- Thursday 28 October 2021
- Com(parative) Syn(tax) Series
2311 BD Leiden
The language of the 17th century is best described as transition with a mixture of fading linguistic properties from the preceding language phase, Middle Dutch, and new ways to construct words and sentences. Within these language dynamics we observe variation within individual language users (intra-author variation). This becomes especially clear in the way 17th century authors use negation: they express negation in the Middle Dutch way (i.e. embracing negation, a combination of the negative clitic en and a negative particle niet) as well as in the modern Dutch way (single negation: niet) (Jespersen 1917; Wouden 2007). Earlier research into negation mainly focused on diachronic changes (Zeijlstra 2004, Kemenade 2000), on describing its variation at the various language stages (Horst 2008) or on the variation between social groups (Nobels 2013; Vosters & Vandenbussche 2012; Nobels & Rutten 2014). In our research project Language Dynamics in the Dutch Golden Age, we take a different viewpoint, and focus on variation within one and the same author in 17th-century Dutch to uncover which linguistic, literary and socio-cultural factors are interacting in this type of variation. In this presentation, we will discuss variation in negation in the ship journals of Michiel de Ruyter as well was in the letters written between 1600 and 1638, by the Dutch author and politician P.C. Hooft. Hooft and De Ruyter used both forms of negation (Paardekooper 2006:126). We show that De Ruyter uses two-part negation to negate a proposition which can be present on different levels of discourse (within the immediate textual discourse, the context of the journal or the context of the time and place De Ruyter lived in). We show that Hooft basically employs the same strategy to use two-part negation, but additionally applies them for literary motives. More precisely, Hooft uses embracing negation often as a style figure, to contrast prepositions at different levels of the discourse and at different levels of abstraction.