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Sifting through the textual evidence: Linguistic variation in 17th century Amsterdam Mike Olson University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Presentation on theme: "Sifting through the textual evidence: Linguistic variation in 17th century Amsterdam Mike Olson University of Wisconsin-Madison."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sifting through the textual evidence: Linguistic variation in 17th century Amsterdam Mike Olson University of Wisconsin-Madison

2 Introduction Text types used for linguistic evidence can affect how we view language use in the past Formal texts: more standardized and less like spoken Informal texts (e.g. personal writings): more variation and closer to spoken Traditional histories of Dutch focuses on standard language, especially for 17 th century Amsterdam Only tells part of the story - more informal texts can reveal language use in other domains Corpus of personal writings from Amsterdam in 17 th century Establish criteria for text selection based on level of orality, or closeness to spoken language Qualitative analysis of documents by Amsterdam natives in different registers

3 Working Hypothesis More formal texts use more uniform spelling and grammar and are less characteristic of spoken language –Formal texts often composed with a standard language in mind –Standards tend to discourage variation and retain archaic features More informal texts tend to contain more variation and represent spoken language more closely –Spoken language is naturally more variable than written –Personal writings often conform less to a standard  Thus, informal, personal writings should reveal changes in spoken language before they become apparent in the formal written standard

4 Personal Writings Linguistic histories ‘from below’ (Elspass 2005; Elspass et al. 2007) –Writers that represent ‘normal’ people, not necessarily part of an elite social classes –Text types that reflect spoken language and variation as closely as possible –Search for patterns of variation in language change –Observe changes in progress

5 Language of Proximity ‘Language of Proximity’ or ‘Conceptual Orality’ (Koch & Oesterreicher 1985) –Language is encoded graphemically in texts and phonically through spoken language –Both media can represent more or less ‘proximity’ or relative ‘orality’, e.g. Texts: legal document vs. transcribed interview Spoken: address before parliament vs. conversation with a close friend –Language that reflects more proximity or orality tends to adhere less to linguistic norms and show more variation in spelling and punctuation contain fewer complex grammatical constructions and less dense information structures

6 Language of Proximity/Distance

7 Variation and Change in Texts Texts should represent spoken language as closely as possible (Schneider 2002) –“the surface appearance of a text, including criteria like the presence and frequency of dialectal forms, the presence of variation, and the overall impression of authenticity, plays a role in assessing a text” (2002:85) –Other factors include relationship between writer and reader and general fit of text with others from same speech community

8 Characteristics of Spoken Language Texts more representative of spoken language –are written by an author in a close relationship with the reader –include more variation in spelling and punctuation –contain more dialectal forms –show less complex sentence/information structures

9 Dutch Language Histories Histories of Dutch generally focus on standard language (e.g. Van Bree 1987; Van Loey 1970; De Vooys 1967; Van der Wal & Van Bree 2008) Numerous personal documents in Dutch archives from Early Modern Period (e.g. Lindeman et al. 1993; Lindeman et al. 1994) –Diaries and Journals, travelogues, family histories, and personal letters –Archives have documentation about writers of texts –Primarily produced by members of higher social class ‘Sailing Letters’ in British National Archives (Van Gelder 2006) –Thousands of personal letters captured by British starting in 1650s and lasting over several naval wars with the Netherlands –Represent a wider range of people than found in archives –Little is known about the writers –Letters dated only from the mid 17th century on Personal documents can provide new sources for studying the development of spoken Dutch (see Goss 2002; Hendriks 1998)

10 Amsterdam in the 17th century The studies of Dutch spoken in Amsterdam during the 17th cent. largely based on more formal texts Vangassen (1965) uses texts from governmental, civic, and religious institutes in Amsterdam, but only focuses on a couple sound changes Weijnen’s (1975) Zeventiende-eeuwse Taal includes data from several Amsterdam authors: –more orality: Bredero and Coster’s Kluchten and Vondel’s Hekeldichten –less orality: Hooft, Vondel, Vos (Jan), Luyken, Brandt Comparison of personal writings with more formal texts sheds light on different linguistic data available for 17 th century Amsterdam

11 Selection of Texts More Formal / Less Orality Text TypeAuthorDate Title/ DescriptionReference Formal ProseP.C. Hooft1642 Nederlandsche Historien (Hellinga & Tuynman 1972) [1] [1] Official Document Schout/ Schepenen 1650 Justitieboek - crimes in the city (SA Amsterdam 5061, nr. 581) Diary/ Travelogue Joan Huydecoper, Sr. ( ) 1635Travelogue of a diplomatic mission (Utrechts A 67, Inv. 41) Personal Letters Joan Huydecoper, Jr. ( ) 1648 Kopieboek of personal letters while travelling (UA 67, Inv. 53) Sailing LetterAmsterdammers1664Personal letters by ‘normal’ people (Van Vliet 2007) [2] [2] Less Formal / More Orality [1] [1] The digitized version in the DBNL: [2] [2] Letter numbers: 5, 17, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 51

12 Qualitative Analysis of the Texts Texts that are more representative of spoken language –Context: Relationship between author and intended audience –Spelling & Punctuation: variation in orthographic conventions –Dialectal Forms: non-standard forms that reveal dialectal traits –Sentence Structures: complexity and density Morphological variation –Pronouns: mij vs. mijn –Verb forms: Subject-Verb Agreement and helping verb with geweest –Case markers: Determiners, Adjectives, Nouns

13 Formal Prose: P.C. Hooft, Nederlandsche Historien Recounts history of young Republic starting in mid 16th century Early influence on standardization of Dutch (Van der Wal & Van Bree 2008:221)

14 Formal Prose: Characteristics of Spoken Language Context: published text, edited to standardize spelling and punctuation Spelling & Punctuation: very little variation, standard punctuation –Mainly z in onset and s in clusters, but small var. versierdt vs. verziert –Small variation in g and gh: teegens vs. teeghens; kreeg vs. kreegh Dialectal forms: one example –Unrounding: ten algemeenen Landbestier Sentence structures: complex and compact with numerous embedded clauses and extended participial phrases –Al 't welk gâa geslaaghen en ooverwooghen by de geenen, die, in zoodaanighe stoffe wel 't zuiverste gezicht hadden, genoomen werd voor teeken van 't genaaken eenigher groote en zwaarlyk stilbaare ontsteltenis; rollende dit werk op 't zelve spoor, waar langs de tweedraght en beroerten van Vrankryk waaren aangeheeven.

15 Formal Prose: Morphological Variation Pronouns: relatively infrequent, always mij (never mijn) Verb Forms: –Subject-Verb Agreement: Primarily conforms to modern standard with small variation in 1st sg. forms; no apocope of -n in other forms dat ik zyn'af koomst, aardt en fortuyn in 't kort ten toon stelle dien ik zelf gezien heb –zou~zoude variation: singular zou-forms are fairly infrequent, while plurals forms are always zouden en ondertussen zou men arbeiden dat hy zich, anders, luttel met haar bekreunen zouw dat hy zeekere plaatzen, t'onderpandt inhouden zoude –Helping Verb with geweest : always form of zyn dien 't doch,..., te min mooghelyk geweest was Case-Marking: –Archaic genitives: not in spoken Dutch varieties (Weijnen 1975:43) Des Konings breedstrekkende maght; in 't groenste zijner jeught –Regular use of inflection: Sing. objects often end with -e and plurals show no apocope of -n in bekooring van koninglyken naame; als een welverknocht, en gevolghzaam Ryk; veele voeten in der aarde; gedreeven tot de waapenen but also with some reduced forms: van de maate zyner maght Graphemic abbreviated forms: zyn' armen van zelf jookende

16 Official Document: Schout en Schepenen, Justitieboek 1650 Justitieboek contains descriptions of crimes in Amsterdam Formulaic language in many short, self-contained texts

17 Official Document: Characteristics of Spoken Language Context: Written by different authors for public record Spelling & Punctuation: formulaic comma use / regular spelling with small variation in and between different writers: s vs. z; g vs. gh Dialectal forms: –ar~er variation: dartigh; dartien –ft~cht variation: verkoft for ‘verkocht’ Sentence structures: complex and compact clauses, embedded subclauses and extended participial phrases (typical legal speech) –Jannitge gerrits van Vlaenderen oud omtrent 21 jaeren, hebbende haer la{ten} misbruijcken van een jode, sijnde een getrouwt man, bij wien sij {is} beswangert en sij wel drij jaeren bij geslaepen heeft, is bij schepenen gebannen uijt dese stede, hare vrijheijd, een mijl int ronde den tijd van twee jaeren,...

18 Official Document: Morphological Variation Pronouns: no use of mij due to nature of the text Verb Forms: –Subject-Verb Agreement: Relatively few inflected verb forms due to the nature of the text, but standard norms of agreement –zou~zoude variation: rarely used, but a couple soude –Helping Verb with geweest : always form of zyn Case-Marking: –Archaic genitives: a few in common phrases int’ spinhuijs deser stad van de dood haers mans –Determiners: some in common phrases, often just de, dese,... Except for time adverbials: den tijd van twee jaeren; den 10e feburarij And common phrases: t’ sijnen huijse –Nouns: sing. objects with/without -e: uijt de hechtenisse / hechtenis uijt deser stad vs. uijt dese stad vs. uijt deser stede vs. uijt dese stede plurals usually with -n but sometimes not: op aenclachte

19 Diary/Travelogue: Joan Huydecoper, Sr., 1635 Composed during a trip to Poland and Sweden in 1635 as member of a diplomatic mission from the Netherlands

20 Diary/Travelogue: Characteristics of Spoken Language Context: may represent more formal speech, ‘official’ context –Written with entries for each day in ‘diary’ style, omitting first element: 19. ditto sijn wij omtrent Dansick verder gecoomen Spelling: shows little variation except in few specific words –No use of letter z, instead all words have s Punctuation: fairly sparse, lacking periods, but with some commas for subclauses and lists Dialectal forms: in only a few words –reflex of WGmc *î : always we sijn but once we sien –Unrounding: stijcken vs. sticken vs. stijck for ‘stuk’ –Always uses doen for ‘toen’ –Loss of -d(en)/-d- : Edelluijden vs. Edelluij vs. Edellij vs. Edelly usually wederom, but a couple times weerom gereeden but one time gereen soo wij naer marien[burch] reeden doch de Secretaris ree voorts Sentence structures: not as complex with fewer embedded clauses and fewer extended participial phrases –logeerden jnt gulde vlies alwaer Monsieur vanden honert ende jck de burgemeester Bicker, die met het Jacht van hoochcamer quam, opden middach te gemoet gingen –was hij daer ouer soo gestoort dat hij gegeten hebbende van tafel gingent daer naer sijn vader klaechde

21 Diary/Travelogue: Morphological variation Pronouns: standard use - only mij Verb Forms: –Subject-Verb Agreement: Very regular forms like Hooft (no -n apocope) sou~soude Variation: none, sou is singular and souden is plural –Helping Verb with geweest : usually form of sijn but once wij hadden hier weijnich vreijheijt soo dat jck niet eens jnde staet of door geweest heb om se te sien –Other non-standard verb forms: Instead of ligt : fredrix[burch] leijt omtrent 3 mijl van Elseneur Loss of -n- : dat men naeulijckx aende Carossen kost coomen Case-Marking: –No use of genitive beyond time references: des smiddags, smorgens –No apocope of -n in plurals –Fairly regular usage of (d)en before masc. objects met den brandenb[urger]; wt den naem But with ‘leakage’ to Neuter: naerden Eeten Nominative: den Duijtsen Cancelier antwoorde voor sijn Magesteijt –Time adverbials: voorden middach, but naerde middach But with ‘leakage’ to Feminine: ende logeerden daer dien nacht

22 Personal Letters: Joan Huydecoper, Jr., Kopieboek 1648 Copies of personal letters during a trip to France, Switzerland and Italy when he was still fairly young, around age 23

23 Personal Letters: Characteristics of Spoken Language Context: Written to close family members and personal friends Spelling: very regular spelling not differing much from standard –Sparse use of the letter z, instead most words have s Punctuation: fairly regular, but lacking periods as in the travelogue Dialectal forms: –ar~er variation: varstaen, vartreck, varkeerken, parsuaderende, but versoeke, vertrock, vereijste –Loss of -d(en)/-d- : koopluij; weer vs. weder; bestemoer; groote kou –ft~cht variation: gekoft for ‘gekocht’ –Always uses doen for ‘toen’ Sentence structures: similar complexity to travelogue but with slightly more parataxis –Omission of subordinating conjunction: ick geef U Ed[ele] te considereren 500 mijn swager mijn had betaelt

24 Personal Letters: Morphological variation Pronouns: constant use of mijn instead of mij –het sou mijn seer aengenaem sijn Verb Forms: –Subject-Verb Agreement: more variation than travelogue, apocope of -e & Hypercorrections in sing. but with little apocope of -n in plural forms ick heb; versoeke vs. versoek; But dat staen ick toe vs. die ick ten naesten bij varsta doen ick te Leijden studeerden mijn swager,..., 300 guld. beloofden but oock spreek men hier al eenen tael –sou~soude Variation: Both forms occur with soude better represented het sou mijn seer aengenaem sijn het geen hier soude mogen passeren –Helping Verb with geweest : usually form of sijn –Loss of -n- : dat ick geen progres koste doen Case-Marking: –No real use of genitive but with analytic construction: wensende dik mael U E[dele] en, neef tol sijn compani –Rarely apocope of -n in plurals –Some use of (d)en before objects but often not masc. : een eerlijken penninck; bij desen versoeck; inden tijt But vande beste taback

25 Sailing Letters: Amsterdammers, 1664 Personal letters among sailors in De Ruyter’s fleet and their family Follow a popular model and at times were written by professional letter writers, so authenticity is difficult (Brouwer 2007)

26 Sailing Letters: Characteristics of Spoken Language Context: Written to close family members and personal friends Spelling: high variation with different spellings for individual words in and among speakers Punctuation: relatively little with a few commas and periods Dialectal forms: Some of many examples –ar~er variation: herte vs. harten vs. haert; starken vs. sterft –ie~ee variation: breef vs. brief; neit vs. niet; heir vs. hier –o~u variation: untvangen vs. ontvangen; gesturven vs. gestorven –o~eu variation: mocht vs. meucht –g~k variation: keen vs. geen –Loss of -d- : verminert vs. vermyndert, –Always doen for ‘toen’ –Reduction: min/men vs. mijn; wet vs. weet; heft vs. heeft Sentence structures: a lot of parataxis, some subclasses but no extended participial phrases –Common parataxis: En Susanna en Fransyntje dye bennen peeten van ons kynt.

27 Sailing Letters: Morphological variation Pronouns: mostly mijn with mij in one speaker Verb Forms: –Subj-Verb Agreement: variation within and across writers als dat ick u l[ieder] breefe untvangen heeft verleden week is heir maer gestorven 445 dooden Wij kan Godt neyt genoch voor bedancken Paulus Somer met sijnen huysvroue noch kloeck ende gesondt ben wij noch altemael noch reedelick cloek ende gesont bennen –sou~soude variation: Both forms occur with slightly more soude soude vs. sout vs. sou –Helping Verb with geweest : often hebben with some sijn En de swaricheijt dye heeft hyer al vrij groot geweest Case-Marking: –Genitives: some analytic constructions En Yan sijn vrijster Jannetjen ys noch gesont. Some synthetic from scriptures: in de handt des Heeren –Determiners / Adjectives: variation with/without endings mijn seer eerwardigh ende beminde man; mijn seer eerwardige man; mijne seer beminde man; voor sijne genade; voor sijnen genadigh –Some apocope of -n in plurals: als dat ick u l[ieder] breefe untvangen heeft

28 Implications of Text Types from Amsterdam Formal, standard, published texts can serve as baselines for non-spoken Institutional texts offer slight variation but with formulaic text intended to preserve information for a public audience Ego-documents and personal letters from educated writers reveal some variation Personal letters written by more ‘normal’ people with less education and from a lower social class such as the Sailing Letters provide probably represent the spoken language in Amsterdam in the 17th century

29 Workging Hypothesis  Personal writings should reveal changes in spoken language before they become apparent in the formal written standard

30 Future Plans / Discussion Construct more quantitative tests for assessing orality of texts/comparing them with more formal texts Where do the Kluchten fit in?


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