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Abstract

This chapter concludes that the participants in the language debates were as diverse as their opinions, and that there was no clear move-ment in the direction of a standardized language or of widespread mon-olingualism. There was no consensus on topics such as loanwords, and linguistic diversity was not necessary looked upon in a negative light. The multilingual context in which they took place marked the six-teenth-century discussions on language in the Low Countries. Most lan-guage debaters were plurilingual, and the literary works through which they participated in the discussions always had a multilingual back-ground. Next to Dutch, the local French language was discussed, and these debates were often fuelled by an interest in other languages. In order to fully understand the early modern debates on language, and Dutch and Flemish culture in general, a multilingual approach is re-quired.

In: The Golden Mean of Languages
Forging Dutch and French in the Early Modern Low Countries (1540–1620)
In The Golden Mean of Languages, Alisa van de Haar sheds new light on the debates regarding the form and status of the vernacular in the early modern Low Countries, where both Dutch and French were local tongues. The fascination with the history, grammar, spelling, and vocabulary of Dutch and French has been studied mainly from monolingual perspectives tracing the development towards modern Dutch or French. Van de Haar shows that the discussions on these languages were rooted in multilingual environments, in particular in French schools, Calvinist churches, printing houses, and chambers of rhetoric. The proposals that were formulated there to forge Dutch and French into useful forms were not directed solely at uniformization but were much more diverse.

Abstract

The debates on language that took place in the context of printing houses in the early modern Low Countries are analysed through the central case of Antwerp printer Christophe Plantin. Printers, who met the demand for books displaying and commenting on languages, used references to the fatherland and the mother tongue to promote their ware. They also frequently referred to the debate on loanwords, with-out collectively rejecting borrowing. The printing press is known as a driving force behind the uniformization of spelling, but few printers made explicit remarks on this topic. Plantin is an exception, as he played an important intermediary role connecting the debates on orthography in France and the Low Countries. Finally, printers furnished works that allowed readers to study languages and take part in the language de-bates themselves.

In: The Golden Mean of Languages

Abstract

This introductory chapter argues that early modern Europe was fascinated with language. In the Low Countries, where both Dutch and French were local languages, discussions arose on the form and status of both vernacu-lars. This book contends that the multilingual situation in this region was an important stimulus for these debates. In order to connect the language de-bates to the linguistic context in which they took place, the concept of lieu is introduced. It is defined as an environment where Dutch and French co-existed. In this book, the debates on language in four such lieux are ex-amined.

In: The Golden Mean of Languages

Abstract

In this chapter, the sixteenth-century discussions on language as they took place throughout the European continent and the British Isles are present-ed. Central questions concerned the interpretation of the biblical story of the Tower of Babel as well as how to deal with the multiplicity of languages in the world. Meanwhile, attention to the vernacular languages grew, while Latin continued to play a dominant role. Rules for the grammar, orthogra-phy, and lexicon of the vernaculars were proposed, for instance on the use of loanwords. The defended opinions diverged greatly, but they were all directed at improving the language in question. Furthermore, studies were conducted into the relations between different languages. Competition and patriotism were important factors in these developments, inspiring an in-terest in other languages rather than a restricted focus on the mother tongue.

In: The Golden Mean of Languages

Abstract

Peeter Heyns, master of a French school for girls in Antwerp, plays a central role in this chapter, which deals with the debates on language that took place in the context of such language schools in the early modern Low Countries. Teachers promoted their schools by presenting plurilingualism as beneficial for the fatherland. They further supported the patria by debating the spelling of both Dutch and French, but few of them wrote about gram-mar. Schoolmasters also rarely participated in the discussions on loanwords, but rather referred to eloquence and a rich vocabulary as ways to promote their schools and language manuals.

In: The Golden Mean of Languages

Abstract

This chapter, revolving around Philips of Marnix, Lord of Sainte-Aldegonde, examines the discussions on language in the newly forming Calvinist com-munities of the early modern Low Countries. The Calvinist leaders, includ-ing Marnix, had to find a balance between the sacred languages of Christi-anity and the two vernaculars spoken by the local religious communities while building a sense of unity and cohesion. Marnix, Petrus Datheen, and Jan Utenhove attempted, each in his own way, to create a Dutch psalm translation that could unite Dutch-speaking Calvinists with each other and with their francophone coreligionists. Marnix also wrote a Dutch and a French polemical text, the Biënkorf and the Tableav des differens de la religion, in which he used the language debates to attack his Catholic opponents by mocking their knowledge of and attitude towards both Latin and the ver-nacular.

In: The Golden Mean of Languages

Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of the multilingual situation in the six-teenth-century Low Countries. It discusses the most prominent domains of public life, defining who spoke what language in what situation. In each of these do-mains, from administration, jurisdiction, and the court, to the arts, sciences, trade, and diplo­macy, Dutch, French, and Latin were used alongside each other. The widespread use of French and Latin often influenced the Dutch vocabulary, which borrowed the specialist jargon from these languages. Although certain individuals complained about this development, in prac-tice a seemingly well-functioning balance had been found between the use of understandable Dutch terms and borrowed ones.

In: The Golden Mean of Languages

Abstract

This chapter studies the discussions on language that took place in the chambers of rhetoric, where men with diverse professional back-grounds, such as schoolmaster Peeter Heyns, came together to practice the art of rhetoric in the vernacular. In this environment, knowledge of other languages was used in order to strengthen the mother tongue. Rhetoricians not only wrote literature in their native language, they also studied it, both in theoretical treatises, such as the Twe-spraack, the first printed grammar book of Dutch, and by experimenting with language in their poetry. The chambers paid attention to spelling and to the use of loanwords, on which diverse but mostly nuanced opinions were ex-pressed. Rhetoricians were not necessarily conservative in their choices regarding language forms and poetic style, which is how they are often presented in modern studies; they reflected critically on ways to im-prove their language.

In: The Golden Mean of Languages
In: Ronsard and Du Bartas in Early Modern Europe