“het is uijt groote nood dat ik myn kind hier brengen…” Over taalgebruik en taalkeuze in negentiende-eeuwse vondelingenbriefjes



This article discusses an exploratory study of the language use and choice in 19th-century
foundlings’ letters from Gent. Inspired by the 'language history from below’ tradition,
this study aims to deepen our knowledge of language past regarding the written language
of 'ordinary people'. After focusing on the tension between non-standard writing practices
and standard norms, we look at the language choice in the foundlings' letters. It is
remarkable that some of these letters were written in French, whereas it is generally
assumed that lower class people only spoke Dutch dialects. We will try and contextualize
our findings concerning language choice within the broader framework of tensions
between French and Dutch in Belgium.