Lambert ten Kate (1674-1731) and linguistics
Lambert ten Kate was born in Amsterdam on 23 January 1674 of Mennonite parents. His father, Herman ten Kate (1644-1706), was a corn merchant. Although Lambert became one of his father's partners in 1696, he does not seem to have liked the corn trade very much, and he withdrew from the firm in 1706. Ten Kate nevertheless remained a well-to-do citizen; following his father's death he lived on the ample income provided by the legacies of his parents and stepmother. The widely held opinion that he gave private tuition ‘in den angesehensten Häusern im Schreiben, Rechnen, Buchhalten und besonders in Geometrie und Algebra’ in order to secure ‘den nöthigen Lebensunterhalt’ (Raumer 1870: 139) is probably mistaken (cf. ten Cate 1987: 21-24). Ten Kate remained a bachelor all his life; he died on 14 December 1731 at the age of 57 as a consequence of ‘a lingering disease’; six days later he was buried in the Noorderkerk in Amsterdam.
When the German jurist and book collector Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach (1683-1734) stayed at Amsterdam in February and March 1711 he was also shown ten Kate's extensive art collection. Ten Kate, he noted, ‘handelt zwar eigentlich mit Korn, ist aber ein sehr höflicher, curiöser und dabey gelehrter Mann’. Ten Kate appears to have been a versatile mind, a typically self-educated eighteenth-century Privatgelehrter who was seriously engaged in various fields of both arts and sciences. He wrote, for example, an essay entitled ‘Experiment on the division of the colours’ (1716), imitating an experiment by Isaac Newton (Opticks, 1704), and he translated theological treatises from French and English into Dutch. Far from being a scholarly recluse he kept in close contact with painters, poets and professors. When discussing ten Kate's position as a linguist, we are aware that only one dimension of his many-sided personality is dealt with.1
2. Ten Kate's linguistic works
Before embarking on his ambitious Aenleiding tot de kennisse van het verhevene deel der Nederduitsche sprake Ten Kate had been involved in other linguistic endeavours. The year 1699 saw the completion of his Verhandeling over de Klankkunde (‘Treatise on Phonetics’), in which he displayed his knowledge and understanding of the physical factors involved in the production of sound. The text remained unpublished but was revised and incorporated into the two-volume Aenleiding.2 As far as his linguistic investigations are concerned, ten Kate always paid attention to the study of sounds. He was keenly aware of the fact that, first and foremost, ‘language’ meant ‘spoken language’ (Van de Velde 1966: 212-213).
Inspired by his senior friend Adriaen Verwer (c. 1655-1717), ten Kate composed his Gemeenschap tussen the Gottische spraeke en de Nederduytsche (‘The Relationship between the Gothic and Dutch languages’), a relatively short work of eighty-four pages which appeared in the spring of 1710. ‘Your passion to examine the fundamentals of the things you take in hand as much as possible back to its first origin has also prompted me to compile a list of Dutch-Gothic homophonous words’ is the opening sentence of his ‘Letter on the Gothic Language’. This letter, which is the first part of the Gemeenschap, is dated 25 March 1708 and is addressed to his friend A[driaen] V[erwer], an Amsterdam merchant who had written in Latin a grammar of Dutch, called Linguae belgicae grammatica, poetica, rhetorica (17071, 17832) and which had appeared under the pseudonym Anonymus Batavus. In the praefatio to his grammar, Verwer had emphasized that it was of great importance ‘linguam nostram ex origine nosse’ (‘to know our language from its origin’), and that this had become possible thanks to Franciscus Junius (1591-1677) and his ground-breaking edition of the Gothic Codex Argenteus (1665, 16842).3 Verwer was an advocate of the gothica-genetrix theory according to which Gothic was considered to be the mother of all Germanic languages.
The Gemeenschap had been written with the aim ‘to Explain the Ancient Foundation of the Dutch Language’ - ‘And here you see what you desired, and even more than that, to satisfy your intentions’, ten Kate announced with due pride. In his treatise, the overeenkomst (‘similarity’) between the Gothic and Dutch languages is vertoont (‘demonstrated’) in a letter, in a list of homophonous words, and on the basis of examples of Gothic declensions and conjugations, respectively.4 Among other things, it is shown that the conjugation of verbs in Dutch and Gothic follows the same pattern, an insight which prompted ten Kate to divide the Gothic verbs into six classes (van der Hoeven 1896: 15-56;
Rompelman 1952: 8-15). It is, indeed, in the conjugational system that ten Kate recognized the regularity of vowel alternation, which eventually led him to the discovery of the phenomenon of what Jacob Grimm was later to call Ablaut.
Having nearly completed the manuscript of his study on the basis of Junius's Gothicum Glossarium (1665), he came across George Hickes's (1642-1712) two-volume Linguarum Veterum Septentrionalium Thesaurus (1705) in which Gothic is dealt with too.5 Ten Kate (1710:12) immediately noticed that his own analysis of the Gothic verbs was far superior to that of his English colleague, in particular with regard to the ongelykvloeyende (‘unevenly flowing’) verbs, that is the strong verbs (cf. Van de Velde 1966: 273)6. Ten Kate was of the opinion that Hickes had not grasped ‘the true distinction between the verbs’ and therefore he sought to make up this deficiency by putting forward a superior ‘division into. Classes’ (1710: 12-13). Moreover, ten Kate drew interesting conclusions concerning the relationship between languages, especially that between Gothic and Dutch, elegantly rejecting, for instance, the gothica-genetrix theory Another important discovery he made was the identification of root stress as a defining characteristic of all the Germanic languages: stress was on the root (‘zakelijke deel’) of a word, not on prefixes or endings. Ten Kate explained root stress as an old pre-Germanic heritage; in this respect, he differs from the modern insight that root stress is a Germanic innovation.
The years 1710-1723 saw the full elaboration of these and other observations into the main body of ten Kate's Aenleiding tot de kennisse van het verhevene deel der Nederduitsche sprake. Among other things, the classification of the Gothic verbs as presented in 1710, was now applied to all of the Germanic languages he knew. The Aenleiding consists of two quarto volumes, each numbering approximately 750 pages. Together, they present the first historical grammar of Dutch, the concepts ‘historical’, ‘grammar’, and ‘Dutch’ being understood in a very broad sense (Rompelman 1952:15-16). It should be noted that this work originated and grew in ten Kate's interleaved copy of the 1642 edition of an important Dutch dictionary, the Kilianus Auctus sive Dictionarium Teutonico-Latino-Gallicum, in which, from 1712 onwards, ten Kate wrote his extensive notes on conceptions of language and etymological explanations (Peeters 1990b: 152).7
The first volume includes a highly informative preface, which outlines the contents. The book is written, for the greater part, in the form of fourteen dialogues between N. (Anonymus Batavus, i.e. Adriaen Verwer) and L. (Lambert ten Kate), in which they discuss, among many other things, the importance of lin-
guistics, the distribution of languages in Europe, Dutch speech sounds, and the declensions and conjugations of Dutch. Besides eight appendixes covering rather varied material, one finds a penetrating essay (I: 542-696) presenting a full comparative description of the ‘irregular’ verb systems of Dutch, Gothic, Old High German, Anglo-Saxon (Old English), Modern High German, Frisian and Icelandic. Ten Kate irrefutably demonstrated that these verbs, far from representing an erratic type of conjugation, were subject to rules that obtained not only to Gothic, but were valid for all branches of Germanic. He discovered that the conjugation of verbs in the other Germanic languages showed patterns that were similar to those in Dutch and he concluded that their pattern of vowel change had to date back before the time that Germanic split up into its various branches. This discovery enabled him to arrange the ‘irregular’ verbs into several classes according to their vowel alternations. ‘Die Durchführung dieser Entdeckung [sc. daß die starken Verba den identischen Grundbau aller germanischen Sprachen bilden], bildet den wichtigsten Theil seiner Aenleiding’ (Raumer 1870: 142).
The second volume provides an etymological dictionary, composed on the basis of the material collected in the first volume and according to the principles applied therein. Two introductory essays providing a hundred-page discussion of the fundamentals of scientific etymology are followed by two long, alphabetically arranged listings of Germanic words derived from strong verb roots. This specimen of a Lexicon Etymologicum contains some 20,000 Dutch words and some 20,000 words from other languages.8
The etymological method followed by ten Kate's predecessors had mainly been based on meaning; they used to add, delete, transpose and change letters ad hoc in order to establish a connection between specific words. Ten Kate, however, proceeded very systematically. As he saw it, his own etymological approach consisted of collecting facts both from the older and modern stages of the Germanic languages, analysing the relevant words, using his knowledge of vowel alternation in the strong verbs, and taking into account the changes of meaning and the rules of euphony (II: 7). The relations between words from various languages had to be accounted for by rules for sound correspondences. Thus, ten Kate was able to formulate a dialectregel (‘rule for sound correspondence in the various languages’) with regard to the vowels, as well as a rule for the consonants (cf. I: 165). His phonetic insights, which were most remarkable in those days, were of great help to him: he claimed, for instance, that P,V en F could replace each other, because all of them were labials (I: 74).
3. The methodological point of view
Junius, Hickes, and ten Kate are rightly considered to be the founding fathers of Germanic linguistics. However, owing to the sophistication and the methodological rigour which characterize his work (cf. Van de Velde 1980), ten Kate is much closer to nineteenth-century scholars such as Jacob Grimm (1785-1863), than to his older contemporary, George Hickes, whose work should be seen as the closing of a period. Ten Kate's main point was to provide an introduction to ‘the exalted part of the Dutch language’, that is to its etymology. In order to provide a firm theoretical basis for his etymologizing he set out the principles which in his view were underlying the geregelde afleiding (‘derivation according to strict rules’) which alone should be relied upon for correct etymologies of the Germanic languages, rather than upon the traditional method of adding, removing, transposing and changing of letters. Consequently, he promised ‘not to alter, shift, eliminate or add a single letter except on the strength of a consistent rule’ (I: 175; cf II: 6). Ten Kate gave short shrift to the work of many of his predecessors: the only way to arrive at a healthy method of etymologizing, he argued, was to forget everything that had previously been claimed in this field of linguistics.
Having abandoned the techniques of etymology of the old school, ten Kate described and justified his own research methods with painstaking care. He postulated an empirical approach: a linguist should find regularities, not invent them (I: 13). The frontispiece of the Aenleiding splendidly illustrates ten Kate's principles. In the left corner a piece of ribbon displays the text Qui quaerit invenit, ‘he who seeks will find’; and in the centre a cherub is tearing up a sheet of paper which read: ‘There is no Rule without exception’. It was not without great satisfaction that ten Kate (I: x) concluded that his investigations had demonstrated that:
the common saying ‘there is no Rule without exception’ no longer can stand the test in our language, because the exceptions have become so scarce and, judging by the abundance of the instances, have sufficiently dwindled as if to none at all.
Ten Kate sought to formulate the various streekhoudende dialect-regels (I: 165), i.e. consistent sound correspondences. It is evident, then, that his main concern was to find regularity in language, something akin to the nineteenth-century Ausnahmslosigkeit (Rompelman 1952: 26), because ten Kate, to whom ‘regularity’ was ‘the crown of a language’ (I: 543), could not believe that the so-called unevenly flowing verbs were as irregular as his contemporaries considered them to be. To him, language was a ‘Divine gift’ (I: 9); ‘fostered by the Milk of Reason’ its development and elaboration had been left to Man (I: 9-10). Since Reason had been the ‘foster mother’ of language (I: 14), language had to be characterized by regularity and show logical coherence. Consequently, with the help of the researcher's reason, consistent rules should be able to be brought to
light. Investigation of the history of Dutch makes clear that this language, too, is characterized by regularity.
Ten Kate was an adherent of eighteenth-century inductive, functional rationalism, according to which reason is used for discovering and explaining the laws of language (Peeters 1990b: 154-155; Verburg 1998 : 337 sqq). His method can be characterized as inductive and empirical. As it appears, this is a reaction to Cartesianism, partly on religious grounds. The background to ten Kate's views is to be found in the Newtonian approach then reigning supreme in the Netherlands (cf. Peeters 1990b; Jongeneelen 1992:210; Noordegraaf 2000:49-50). It comes as no surprise, then, that ten Kate's linguistic method has recently been characterized as Newtonian linguistics (Salverda 2001).
4. The Aenleiding, a many-sided book
As has been said before, the Aenleiding is a many-sided work, including descriptions of similar phenomena in various Germanic languages, suppositions on the relationship of languages, ideas of language change and language variation, and a description of Dutch language phenomena and etymology. In the following section various aspects of the Aenleiding will be discussed, be it in a brief manner.
We have already discussed ten Kate's rule of root stress and his main discovery: the principle of vowel gradation or Ablaut in the strong verb system. His ideas about the relationships among languages implied a division into three main branches: ‘Cimbric or Old Norse, also called Runic’, the branch to which the Scandinavian languages belong; ‘(Old) Theuthonic or Old German’, which comprises Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German and ‘Low Dutch or Belgic’; ‘Celtic’ which, apart from Celtic, also includes Greek, Latin and the Romance languages. Ten Kate provides a division of the Germanic languages in which he assigns Gothic a place in the West Germanic (‘Old Theutonic’) branch. This division is a remarkable change in comparison to the then prevailing idea that Gothic was the mother of all Germanic languages.
Ten Kate's rule of root stress and his observations on stress differences in Dutch were adopted by his contemporaries. His classification of the verbs was also adopted, and sometimes slightly adapted, in eighteenth-century grammars and treatises (cf. van der Wal 2000, 2002). However, these adaptations did not concern ten Kate's division of verbs into six classes and a remaining group for those irregular verbs that do not fit into any of the six classes (I: 543-574):
the remaining group of those irregular verbs that do not fit in any of the six classes, such as the preterite-present verbs deugen, konnen and verbs such as doen, hebben.
Whereas ten Kate assigned verbs such as bakken ‘to bake’ - biek/ bakte - gebakken to two different classes, the one according to the obsolete strong preterite form biek, the other according to the current weak preterite bakte, the eighteenth-century grammarian Jan van Belle (c. 1690-1754), who adopted ten Kate's verbal classification, stuck to a synchronic approach and assigned such originally strong verbs only to the class of weak verbs. Van Belle's synchronic approach also resulted in an irregular status for the verbs gaan, staan, worden (‘to go, to stand, to become’), which belonged to class III in ten Kate's system.
The full attention which has been paid to ten Kate's historical-comparative work, his etymology and their methodological importance, should not lead us to overlooking the other interesting aspects of the Aenleiding. Ten Kate also took up a position with respect to the standard language which was taking its shape in the eighteenth century. For the Gemeenlands dialect (i.e. the general language variety or standard language) he preferred the distinction between between ei and ij, a distinction in pronunciation which had been lost in the prestigious Hollandish dialect of the Amsterdam region (the Amstel- and Rijnland dialect), but which was still current in the Rotterdam area (the Maasland dialect). The contemporary inhabitants of the Amsterdam region pronounced the ij just as the diphtong ei, but that was supposed to be a fairly recent phenomenon: the older generation in Amsterdam is said by ten Kate to still remember the distinction between the two sounds, a distinction as in the Zaanland way, between the ei pronounced as aai and the ij as ei (I: 155). Ten Kate had an excellent eye (and ear) for variation in contemporary language: not only does he point out many regional differences, but also what we would now call sociolinguistic differences. Moreover, he distinguishes particular stylistic levels.
The three different levels of language use that ten Kate distinguished are the hoogdravende or verhevene stijl (‘the sublime style’), the deftige or statige stijl (‘the solemn style’) and the gemeenzame stijl (‘the plain style’). This division resembles the tripartite classification that has been used for centuries in rhetorics: the so-called high, middle and low styles, the choice of which depended on the subject involved. According to ten Kate's own description, the sublime style has the characteristics of ancient usage; it is a style used by scholars. The solemn style approaches daily usage (de daeglijkse gewoonte), but it sticks to the full and regular order and solemnity of expression (de volledige en regelmatige orde en deftigheid des gezegs). This style implies that ‘shortenings’ (inkortende wijzen, inkortingen) such as the apocope of -e, -en or -er do not often occur. The plain style, finally, conforms daily usage (de daeglijksche Taelvoering en Spreektrant) in which such ‘shortenings’ frequently occur, but it is clearly distinguished from the vulgar colloquial and street-language (de platte Spreek- en Straettael) (I: 334). The term straattaal thus characterizes language usage far below the lowest style level (van der Wal 1994).
Ten Kate assigns language characteristics to his various levels of style. They correspond to the degree in which case endings are used, as illustrated with the genitive and dative (I: 337):
The lower the style, the fewer articles, adjectives and nouns are provided with case endings. Other phenomena such as full and phonetically reduced pronominal forms are accounted for in a similar way: the unstressed, reduced pronouns me, we, je, ze (versus mij, wij, jij, zij) are restricted to the plain style; the compounded pronouns gijlieden, zijlieden (versus gij, zij) are part of both the sublime and the solemn style (I: 469-470).
In discussing the usage of the various styles, Ten Kate takes into account the intended audience, which implies that he even has a lenient attitude towards street language (de tael van de agterstraten):
I also acknowledge that anyone who attempts to write according to the rules of the language and pleasantly ought to exert himself to comply with the general (or: standard) language variety, although every one for himself may suffice with the variety of his own City if he intends no other audience than that of his fellow townsmen; nay, what is more, the language
of the backstreets might be considered sufficient, because the text will serve no other audience than that of the people of those quarters (I: 155; emphasis ours).
On more than one occasion ten Kate surprises us with interesting observations on the language usage of his contemporaries. Thus, je ‘you’ and we ‘we’ (instead of gij and wij), which belong to the plain style, are forms which are used ‘when speaking to equals’ (emphasis ours). He observes that je (instead of gij) has not yet found acceptance in the written language:
This JE for GY is so common in the colloquial that GY sounds altogether affected; and this JE is even being used in the Oblique Case, as, for example, VAN JE, and AAN JE; but this [usage] has been kept outside the written language until now as being too base, too vulgar, and too common (I: 473; emphasis ours).
Ten Kate's new threefold division was adopted in a number of eighteenth-century grammars, albeit sometimes in the form of a twofold division in which the sublime and solemn styles were reduced to one level (cf. van der Wal 2002).
When ten Kate's Aenleiding is characterised as a ‘historical grammar of Dutch’, it is important to keep in mind that it is a historical grammar which devotes much attention to synchronic, contemporary phenomena. Orthography, a favourite subject of many of ten Kate's contemporaries, is also given its dues. During ten Kate's lifetime, grammarians paid so much attention to minor orthographic discussions that ten Kate once spoke of spelkonst (‘spellcraft’) as spil- of quelkonst, that is ‘the craft of spilling and vexing’) ‘for nowhere in matters grammatical is so much oral quarrelling than about such trifles’ (I: 109). Ten Kate himself pleaded for two kinds of orthography: the burgerlijke (‘civil’) or gemeene (‘common’) orthography, based on custom, that is mainly on the usage of prestigious authors as opposed to the natuerkundige en naeukeurige (‘physical and precise’) or critique (‘critical’) orthography, based on the principle of representing one sound by one symbol only (I, 110-111; 114-115). Each sound should be represented by a specific symbol:
The perfect execution of the Critique Orthography needs only one common foundation, to wit that each special sound, both short and long, should have a letter symbol of its own.
It is not at all surprising that ten Kate strove at establishing an orthography which deviated from both the orthographic practice of previous grammarians, such as Moonen and Sewel, and that of his contemporary Huydecoper (de Bonth 1998: 117). Ten Kate's principle of one sound, one symbol could have played an important role in the on-going discussion on superfluous symbols such as GH in wegh ‘way’. In orthographic matters, grammarians repeatedly refer to ten Kate, and clearly use him as an authority to support their own views. They sometimes
mention his two kinds of orthography, but his orthographic principles, which could have laid the foundations for the Dutch orthography, were never seriously taken into consideration (cf. van der Wal 2000).
How was ten Kate's linguistic work received in the eighteenth century and did his reputation still hold in the nineteenth century? Some of his ideas - the rule of root stress, the classification of verbs and his threefold division of styles - found their way even in less prominent publications and in fairly simple grammar books. The indebtness of Balthazar Huydecoper (1695-1778) - another outstanding contemporary - to ten Kate is well-known (cf. Jongeneelen 1996; de Bonth 1998). Moreover, ten Kate was highly praised and mentioned as an authority in various publications.
The publication of ten Kate's Aenleiding in 1723 did not pass unnoticed. The following year, the learned periodical Maendelyke uittreksels, of Boekzael der geleerde werelt (‘Monthly Abstracts or Library of the World of Letters’; 1724: 493-506) published a very favourable review which included an extensive account of its contents and a summary of the most important results. Tribute was also paid to ten Kate as a linguistic guide by the literary societies that gained in popularity from the second half of the eighteenth century onwards (De Vries 2001: 88, 105), although there is a subtle hint of a less favourable reception in the years preceding 1758. Thus, the mathematician Johan Lulofs (1711-1768) observed in 1758 that ‘a few years ago, the Aenleiding had been thrown as a useless book behind the bench in an unforgivable manner by ignorant people who were too much taken in by foreign languages and customs’. But he was able to add that the book ‘to the joy of all language experts starts gaining its proper recognition by our fellow citizens who can no longer close their eyes to the power, wealth and elegance of our mother language’ (cf. ten Cate 1987: 164; van der Wal 2000: 18). Indeed, in the circles of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (‘Society for Dutch Philology’), founded in 1766, ten Kate's reputation was uncontested and has remained so until the present day.
Ten Kate's fame also appears from enthousiastic opinions such as vented by the anonymous author of Aanmerkingen over den Oorsprong en verderen voortgang der Nederduitsche taale, (Franeker 1780), who claims that he wants to follow in the footsteps of two famous men: ‘the profound L. ten Kate Hermz. and the indefatigable B. Huidecoper, which two heroes seem to fight each other for the greatest honour. Lambert ten Kate Hermantz, a man praised even by foreigners (italics added) for his skills, is known among the Dutch for his lucidity and ingeniousness and whose sight reached further than any of those who ever exerted themselves to throw some light on the national language’ (Inleiding, VI). Ten Kate was indeed lauded by foreigners such as the Scotsman James Boswell (1740-1795),
who became familiar with ten Kate's work during the former's stay in Holland. In Boswell's opinion, ten Kate's Aenleiding was a real treasure. It was this very book that was also greatly appreciated by the Italian cardinal and polyglot Giuseppe Gaspare Mezzofanti (1774-1849) (cf. van der Wal 2002; Rizza 1987: 78).
In nineteenth-century Holland, ten Kate was seen as a linguistic miracle. For example, Jan Beckering Vinckers (1821-1892), professor of English at the University of Groningen (1885-1892), when translating William Dwight Whitney's (1827-1894) Language and the Study of Language (1867) into Dutch, inserted several pages on his compatriot into the first volume. He was of the opinion that it had been ten Kate, not Grimm, who laid the very first foundations of the comparative grammar of Germanic: ‘I for one am fully convinced that Grimm learned a great deal from his study of ten Kate's work. [...] What Bacon has been for scientific research in general, ten Kate was for the scientific study of language’ (Beckering Vinckers 1877: 37). In numerous places Beckering Vinckers detected ‘a most surprising similarity between the ideas of ten Kate and those of the American Whitney, one and a half centuries later.
According to Hermann Paul (1891: 35), it had been Lambert ten Kate who of all the older scholars had succeeded in coming closest to Jacob Grimm's opinion concerning Ablaut. Did Grimm ever recognize ten Kate's achievements? As early as 1812 Jacob Grimm's attention had been drawn to ten Kate's works, the Aenleiding in particular, by Hendrik W Tydeman (1778-1863), one of his Dutch correspondents (Martin 1884:173). As it turned out, however, it was August Wilhelm Schlegel's (1767-1845) harsh review of the first volume of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's Altdeutsche Wälder in the Heidelberger Jahrbuch (1815), that prompted Grimm to actually study ten Kate. ‘Für die Geschichte unserer Grammatik’, Schlegel argued:
ist bisher durch Ausländern mehr geleistet worden, als durch deutsche Gelehrte. Wir nennen hier vorzüglich ausser Hickes und [Edward] Lye [1694-1767], eine holländische Schrift: Gemeenschap tussen de Gottische Spraeke en de Nederduytsche von Lambert ten Kate. Sie umfasst nicht die ganze gothische Grammatik, sondern bloss die Konjugation und Deklination, diese sind aber meisterlich behandelt. [...] Lambert ten Kate hat den Satz durchgeführt, die sämmtliche Zeitwörter des Ulfilas nach Klassen geordnet und ihre Analogie bis in die feinsten Verzweigungen nachgewiesen (Schlegel 1847 : 406-407; cf. Jongeneelen 1992: 212).
Schlegel's critique is generally considered to have led Grimm to his ‘Wendung zu strenger Wissenschaftlichkeit’ (Raumer 1870: 452). In any case, this criticism must have meant an exhortation for Grimm to follow ten Kate's model of methodological rigour in historical linguistics. When H.W. Tydeman had managed to purchase a copy of the Aenleiding for his German friend, Grimm wrote to him on 15 December 1818: ‘Mit dem Ankauf des ten Kate für 6f. bin ich
sehr zufrieden, zum Nachschlagen wird es mir immer nützlich seyn wiewohl ich seit dem halben Jahre, dass ich mir ihn von der Göttinger Bibl. kommen lassen, wenig daraus gelernt habe’ (Reifferscheid 1883: 67). Despite his disparaging tone, Grimm must have studied ten Kate's work with greater care in later years, although solid references to ten Kate are decidedly scarce. It has been argued that some of ten Kate's insights concerning the problem of gender were adopted by Grimm in his Deutsche Grammatik (Dibbets 1996: 74). Furthermore, in his Grammatik (II, 1822-1837: 67) Grimm clearly acknowledged: ‘Ten Kate hat die Ablaute zuerst in ihrer Wichtigkeit hervorgehoben, nur die vocalunterschiede nicht strenge genug, am wenigsten die der consonanten beobachtet’. Although Raumer argued that ten Kate ‘auf Grimms grammatische Forschungen einen besonders tiefgreifenden Einfluss geübt (hat)’, this claim needs further substantiation (cf. Rompelman 1952: 271).
6. Concluding Remarks
It has been repeatedly claimed that had ten Kate's works not been composed in Dutch, but in French or Latin, his ideas could have had a much wider dissemination (cf., for example, Knol 1977: 105). Now his influence has been limited to a mainly Dutch context, despite the fact that Jacob Grimm and other nineteenth-century historical linguists were acquainted with his works.
A trustworthy informant at the end of the eighteenth century, professor Everhardus Scheidius (1742-1794), declared: ‘The true systematic etymologies were only found at the beginning of this very century, for Greek by T.
Hemsterhuis, for the Oriental languages by A. Schultens and for Dutch by L. ten Kate’.10 This statement serves to demonstrate that the self-taught ten Kate was considered to rank with distinguished university professors such as Tiberius Hemsterhuis (1685-1766) and Albert Schultens (1686-1750). Despite obvious shortcomings (Van de Velde 1966: 273), the work of ten Kate stands out in the eighteenth century ‘as a unique contribution’ (Polomé 1983b:165) to the study of comparative historical linguistics, both in terms of its contents and its methodology.
With this conclusion in mind, it seems safe to emphasize that the wide-ranging Aenleiding has never yet been discussed and evaluated in its entirety. Now it is easily available as a facsimile reprint, ten Kate's magnum opus will without any doubt prove to be a challenging object of inquiry, a source of knowledge still not fully explored, as well as a source of linguistic insights, observations and facts.