Ritual Language Behaviour
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
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We shall be concerned with a mode of epistolary politeness that marks a special category of ritual language use. Taking examples from the correspondence between Hooft and Huygens, two notable representatives of the Dutch Republic’s cultural elite, we will establish, first, that the notions and methods of the modern language-and-politeness paradigm are well-suited tools for exploring politeness phenomena occurring in seventeenth-century Dutch. Next we will argue that, in cases like the one under study, negatively polite ostentation is by and large a ritual affair, particularly since the use of subservient phrases and other expressions according to the humiliative mode is generally a game, rather than earnestly paying deference. As regards the issue of playful make-believe politeness, it will be contended that early modern society was quite preoccupied with various genres of “deceit”, artistic and otherwise, and took much pleasure in the witty exploitation of multiple meaning design, also when it concerned doing the civil thing.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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