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The philological underpinning of Translation Studies in Spain and Portugal

Abstract: At a time when the histories of disciplines are under review, a historiographic viewpoint can help interpreting the present. So, in this essay, we will take a historiographic approach to describe the recent past of Translation Studies in Spain and Portugal in terms of its philological underpinning.

Keywords: Translation Studies philological tradition, Iberian Peninsula.


At a time of a boom in translation studies such as the one we are currently experiencing, it would seem like a good time to take stock of the more recent past. As Santoyo (385) reminds us, in the mid-1970s Spain and Portugal were barren wastelands, because of the lack of courses, references and schools where translation could be studied. However, after 1980 things began to change at such a rate that we can now say that translation studies is one of the most dynamic disciplines in the two countries. So many changes have taken place and so many research papers have been published, that it seems appropriate to pause for a moment to reconsider how these courses are set up in the two countries. But first I should briefly explain the choice of a concept that appears in the title. As we understand philology, or rather filologia, it has the meaning “Science that studies a culture as manifested in its language and literature, mainly through written texts” [“Ciencia que estudia una cultura tal como se manifiesta en su lengua y en su literatura, principalmente a traves de los textos escritos”[1]]. Under this definition, three areas are involved: culture, language and literature, elements that make up the foundation from which translation proceeds to achieve autonomous academic status. Finally, we have taken a historiographic approach to describe the recent past of translation studies in the two countries in terms of its philological underpinning.

  • [1] The first definition in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Espanola, 2001 (22nd ed.).
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