Language Dynamics in the Dutch Golden Age

Related projects

Pilotproject on negation in the letters of P.C. Hooft, co-funded by Nederlab


Our pilotproject on negation in the letters of P.C. Hooft is co-funded by Nederlab, a web environment in which researchers and students interested in historical developments in Dutch language and literature could search through millions of pages of Dutch texts.


Within the dynamic linguistic situation of the Dutch Golden Age, we observe a type of language variation that has rarely been addressed before: 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; compare French ne…pas) as well as in the modern way (single negation: niet). In this Nederlab pilot project, we aim to describe and analyze in detail the linguistic and literary/rhetorical contexts in which these two variants of negation occur within the letters of the famous Dutch author and politician P.C. Hooft, written between 1600 and 1638. In this period, he used both forms of negation: as earlier research has demonstrated, Hooft stopped using embracing negation in 1638. This pilot project will enrich Hooft’s letters in the Nederlab corpus in such a way that we are able to search for grammatical properties that are specific for 17th century Dutch. We will then analyze in which linguistic, literary and sociolinguistic contexts specific types of negation and negation particles were used.

The annotated corpus will be accessible via Nederlab.

Output pilotproject