3 The Multilingualism of Dutch Rhetoricians: Jan van den Dale's Uure van den doot (Brussels, c. 1516) and the Use of Language
© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, ���5 | doi ��.��63/9789004�89635_005 This is an open access chapter distributed under the terms of the CC-BY-NC License. chapter 3 The Multilingualism of Dutch Rhetoricians: Jan van den Dale's Uure van den doot (Brussels, c. 1516) and the Use of Language Arjan van Dixhoorn 1 Works that trace the development of a new theatrical culture include: Arnade, Realms of Ritual; Ashley and Hüsken, Moving Subjects; Hanawalt and Reyerson, City and Spectacle; Cauchies, Fêtes
... t ceremonies; Fischer-Lichte, Horn and Umathum, Wahrnehmung und Medialität; Kipling, Enter the King; Lavéant, Théâtre et culture dramatique d'expression française; Lecuppre-Desjardin, La ville des ceremonies; Van Bruaene, Om beters wille; Van Dixhoorn, Lustige geesten. For the development of print culture and the flourishing of manuscript culture in the fifteenth century, Würgler, Medien in der frühen Neuzeit, particularly 69. Arjan van Dixhoorn -9789004289635 Downloaded from Brill.com05/06/2020 09:18:59AM via free access 51 THE MULTILINGUALISM OF DUTCH RHETORICIANS of urbanized Europe, the Low Countries, where Dutch-speaking communities developed a theatrical culture based on the liberal arts that chose the art of rhetoric as its paradigm. The focus will be on the sociolinguistic communities of rhetoricians that gathered in the so-called chambers of rhetoric from the early decades of the fifteenth century onwards, starting in the cosmopolitan creative cultures of the urban networks of Brabant and Flanders. The prototype of the chamber of rhetoric was consolidated around 1450 and the rhetorical knowledge, practices, and techniques that the early chambers developed became paradigmatic for vernacular literary culture in Dutch after the 1480s.2 The paradox of rhetorician life is however that it is the institutionalization of the increasingly important role of the written or even printed text as the basis for a reading, reciting, or performance among live audiences. A written text in early modern culture was completed orally: the performance of a memorized written text or its reading aloud gave it its finishing touch. While Pleij has stressed the aurality of the production, completion, and reproduction of written texts, Kramer has argued how in rhetorician farcical culture most theatrical action was typically verbalized simultaneously by the actors while performing the acts. Such a verbalized Rabelaisian world required the creation of a literary language for the material, organic, dirty, common, low, deformed, decaying, inverted, bizarre, and confusing features of life. At the same time, the farcical was characterized by a special fascination for the anatomy of language, and its ambivalent potential for miscommunication.3 Although Kramer focused on the farcical language of the rhetoricians, these features, such as the fascination for the material and organic world of the senses or the anatomy and communicative quality of language, were also typical of rhetorician language in general. This is evident in the common use of word stacks, neologisms, meaningless or ambivalent words, word extensions, synonym stacks, and homonyms. The sensuous language of the rhetoricians used expletives, swearing, oath-taking, incantations, colloquial vocabulary, nonsense and street terms; it transgressed and merged jargons, inversed linguistic snobbery, and abundantly used praise-abuse-forms. If the context of conversation, literary ceremony and ritual, performances, and competition of the chambers of rhetoric is taken into account as well, the world of the rhetoricians meets many of qualities of oral cultures identified by Walter Ong.4 2 For introductions to the culture of the chambers of rhetoric in English see Van Dixhoorn, 'Chambers of Rhetoric'; and Van Bruaene, ' "A wonderful triumfe" ' . 3 Pleij, Het gevleugelde woord, pp. 253-62; Kramer, Mooi, vies, knap, lelijk, passim. 4 Ong, Orality and Literacy, pp. 36-70. Arjan van Dixhoorn -9789004289635 Downloaded from Brill.com05/06/2020 09:18:59AM via free access van dixhoorn The features of orality that were most evident in rhetorician culture are the use of an additive, enumerative, aggregative rather than an analytic style. Rhetorician language, meant for oral and performative transmission and memorization in absence of manuscripts or printed texts and images to fall back upon instantly, had a strong preference for epithets and other formulaic forms, for a redundant and copious style. Since the oral utterance and the performance are ephemeral, Ong argues, the mind must be supported to focus attention during the performance. Redundancy, repetition, and volubility keep speaker and hearer on track, which explains the method of the ancient rhetoricians called copia or amplification.5 Ong argues that the conceptualization and verbalization of knowledge in an oral and performative context, that is, in the absence of recording media such as parchment or paper, will use close references to the human life world, particularly the interaction of human beings, a technique which is evident in the use of allegory and personification in rhetorician culture. Other techniques that oral and performative cultures use to stimulate memorization (that is to make the argument or narrative stick in memory) are the use of an agonistic style; of verbal and intellectual combat and games (such as riddles), bragging, of tongue-lashing the opponent, of name-calling, as well as descriptions of physical violence. Apart from the use of 'heavy' language, oral memory also works with 'heavy' characters, heroic and bizarre figures that organize 'experience' in memorable form since, according to Ong, the colorless cannot survive in oral mnemonics. Paradoxically, such oral devices were used to the full not in the medieval literature of, or so it seems, less literate times, but instead in a rhetorical culture that heavily depended on manuscript and printed texts and images.6 This essay thus focuses on a culture which was characterized by the interdependency of oral, visual, performative, and written means of storage and communication of experiences and ideas. One of its features was a chronic lack of easily accessible knowledge. This essay argues that the language of rhetoricians that had to deal with these characteristics was a hybrid that included the visual and performative through ecphrasis (the lively description of people, places, works of art, events, acts) and theatricality (that is by performing in front of a live audience), and the combination of these, by mimicking or simulating such a performance.7 5 Ibidem. 6 Ibidem.