The philological underpinning of translation studies in Spain and Portugal

The teaching of translation has a consolidated tradition in Spain and Portugal, although the academic and institutional status of translation studies differs between the two countries. In Spain it has been taught since the mid-1970s, with the first courses in Portugal beginning a decade later. Since then, and continuing into the present, universities have multiplied across the two countries, presenting a highly varied distribution and broad supply. However, the adaptation of university courses to the Bolonia directives, turning the former licentiate courses (licenciaturas) into degrees, has reduced the number of subjects, displacing specialist content to postgraduate courses, which in the case of translation studies has given a more important role to subjects of a technical nature. For some authors, the humanities are undergoing a crisis, and in the case of our discipline, the myriad theories and approaches, together with translation policies, the emergence of new technology and profitability, have all relegated the humanist component, which is inherent to an activity like translation, to second place. Bearing in mind that one of the priorities of teaching translation is to train translators to meet the needs of the professional market, one is led to wonder why some translation scholars and translators should now be advocating a return to the philological model. Thus, an author such as Salvador Pena, an Arabist, translator and translation lecturer, questions the current approaches to translation studies and the excessive dependence on new technology: “Now that the new technology is no longer new, is it not time to reincorporate into translation the set of old technology: rhetoric, hermeneutics, philology, comparative literature...?” [“Ahora que las nuevas tecnologias han de- jado de ser nuevas, ^no es el momento de reintegrar la traduccion a la compania de las viejas tecnologias: retorica, hermeneutica, filologia, literatura comparada.?”] (23). This demand, which aims to bring translation back to its humanist origins, involves respecting the text and defending literal translation: “Literal translation assures respect for the spirit over the word; and interlinear translation assures absolute respect for the reader” [“La traduccion literal garantiza el respeto al espiritu sobre la letra. Y la interlineal, el respeto absoluto al lector”] (27).Or, for example, why a translator like Carlos Garcia Gual should publicly denounce the postmodern disdain for the past that spurns classical authors and their modern translators, as a result of a curtailed, discontinuous humanist tradition that has reduced the presence of classical languages in education (31).

We will seek here to find explanations in the recent past of the discipline to interpret these critical voices that advocate a return to philological study, to the “old technology”, precisely at a time when translations of all languages, including the classics and Arabic, have multiplied, and when historical and comparative studies are undergoing a boom in Spain and Portugal.

 
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