The concept of philology and language-teaching

The philological concept, which takes classical languages as the model for Western culture, would influence how languages were taught and bring the concept of faithfulness to the fore. As Amado Laurel has shown for the 1911-1960 period, language-teaching, which was based on literary texts, carried a philological component in the context of republican ideas and, after 1926, in the context of the Estado Novo ideology. This author analyses several speeches inaugurating the academic year (Oragao de Sapiencia) given at the University of Coimbra, including the one given by Carolina Michablis de Vasconcelos on the 12th January 1912, with which she opens her book Ligoes de Filologia Portuguesa. This speech, which was given the year after the arts faculties were founded in Portugal, positions classical, Romance and Germanic philology studies within the German philology model (in the wake of the comparative scholars Bopp and Diez) and considers the philologist’s task to be to research history and make comparisons until the original sources are arrived at. Amado Laurel notes:

Through the knowledge of “roots’, extrapolating the application of the philological method to literary studies, we would find the “key’’ to the meaning of texts, and the search for their sole meaning exercised readers/investigators/detectives — students and master — determined to seek the truth of texts. A truth that coincided with the “author’s intent’’ (intentio auctoris) [...] Researchers were then expected to adopt a position of faithfulness to the author’s intent, with literary studies being obliged to provide knowledge of both the person and of the work.

[No conhecimento das “raizes”, por extrapola^ao da aplica^ao do metodo filologico aos estudos literarios, se encontraria a “chave” da significa^ao dos textos, e na procura do seu sentido unico se exercitavam os leitores/investigadores/detectives - alunos e mestre -, empenhados na procura da verdade dos textos. Verdade essa coincidente com a “inten^ao do autor” (intentio auctoris) [.] Do investigador esperava-se entao uma postura de fi- delidade a inten^ao do autor, devendo os estudos literarios proporcionar o conhecimento do homem e da obra.] (§ 14-16)

After the installation of the Estado Novo in 1943, Francisco Rebelo Gonsalves, in the lecture As Humanidades classicas e a Universidade de Coimbra issued an apologia in favour of classical humanities, in the name of the eternal values that they convey. This author considers the teaching of classical languages to be more important than that of modern languages, among other reasons because they are languages that make us think in a different way, moving away from the mere mechanical correspondences between languages. This lecture also notes the value of philology as a science and conceives the study of philology alongside historical literary studies to be exegesis of texts, in order to reach the soul of the people that spoke it (Amado Laurel § 27-30).

The oragao de sapiencia given on the 19th October 1964 by Costa Pimpao, titled As humanidades e o Humanismo de hoje, falls within the same area, stressing the exclusive value of humanist (classical, Latin) training in order to understand the present, and considering modern literature to have usurped the rightful place of classics.

We therefore find a predominance of the study of classical languages over that of modern languages and a philological approach to studying them. However, in the 1960s the situation was beginning to change, as we see from the oragao de sapiencia given on the 22nd October 1960 by Paiva Boleo, which took a completely different position. The author develops the topic of linguistics as a science of modernity in the lecture Algumas tendencias eperspectivas da Lingutstica moderna, considering that linguistics applied to modern languages should be developed as the first step in the development of translation studies. Paiva Boleo views translation as a field of great importance and thus calls for foreign-language institutes or institutes of interpreting or translation and interpreting to be set up by universities (Amado Laurel § 35). The first school of this type was set up in Madrid by Valentin Garcia Yebra in 1974.

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