There are a large number of Dutch abc poems from the Middle Ages and the chambers of rhetoric (late 14th-16th c.). These are poems in which the starting letters of the stanzas, verses or words together form an alphabet. The z in the alphabet of these poems is usually followed by some abbreviation signs. Their number varies; usually there are two or four, sometimes three and only in Eduard de Dene's poems there are five. When there are two, it always concerns - if the poems are unspoiled - the signs for et and con. When there are four the est sign is also always present, besides the signs for et and con. So far for constancy, since the fourth element in these alphabets can be a variety of abbreviation signs, including the ur sign, the esse sign, and, again, the con and the est sign. This fourth element especially has puzzled editors. However, it always appears to represent the same thing: all these different signs have to be read as titel(English tittle, Latin titulus) because they are a tittle. The alphabets with three abbreviation signs contain, besides et and con, either est or titel.
Once the origin of the alphabet with abbreviation signs is researched (computus) and after it is shown that, via education (primers), alphabets with abbreviation signs survive into the seventeenth century, the alphabet of De Dene is finally discussed. This contains, apart from et, con, titel and est, also tra. It is shown that this tra actually does not belong in the medieval alphabet. The addidion of tra indicates that, in time, the medieval alphabet was misunderstood.
full text in DBNL
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