Interview with Manuel García Teijeiro
The second day of the 25th Congress of Young Linguists benefited from a presentation by Manuel Garcia Teijeiro, Professor of Classical Philology at the University of Valladolid and director of the Greek Classics Collection by Akal publisher. "The Language of the Gods and Ghosts" was your paper's striking title. We have spoken with him in this interview with the Fundacion de la Lengua Española, about his speech and on the sad news on Miguel Delibes' death, coinciding with the last day of Congress,
Beatriz Hernández Bilbao. Fundacion de la Lengua Española
The last day of the Congress began with the news of the death of Miguel Delibes, how do you remember that moment, how you?
Miguel Delibes's death was a huge sorrow to all of us. We had already expected it, but there is always hope, in spite that hope is irrational. One of his sons, German works at this faculty, and he is deeply cherished. I think although Delibes is a universal writer, at the same time, we all felt his as our own, we all felt him as from Valladolid. It was one of those figures who having thatprojection, not only in Spain but all over the world, who by the way I thinkshould have won the Nobel Prize, had at once something intimate, something personal, something belongin to all Valladolid. It has been said that he was the heart of Valladolid. The fact he is dead and it has coincided with the Congress, was an opportunity for everyone in the meeting to express that grief. It was exciting noticing to that extent Delibes's projection, and yet so universal in Valladolid, entered so deeply into young linguists who were hundreds and not just from Spain but from all over the world.
The 25thCongress of Young Linguists has been greatly received, very successful...
As one of the speakers, this Dutch who is a professor at the University of Barcelona, Teun Van Dijk, very well remarked to what extentthese Congresses of Young Linguists are peculiar, because there is nowhere forany discipline a youth association as it could be for young psychologists,young doctors, etc., however, young linguists, yes. This has perfectly curdled, and as a matter of fact this isthe twenty-fith organized international conference, and it is not only that people who come to participate are from all countries, but also those who come to listen are also everywhere.
What aspects are highlighted in such an association?
The Association of Young Linguists has high qualities from the publication point of view. Almost immediately after the congresses everything is published in the Web and they try that all documents in the various universities acting as a seat also appear as a record. In addition we must also stress the amount of linguistic disciplines which are represented at these meetings: linguistics history, lexicography, linguistic features, etc., all of them are alive. Those who have attended the symposium will also look at how far in the talks, the discussion after each paper, after each communication, issues of all kinds appeared, and this is crucial in a Congress, because what you say, the presentation, the communication, is always easy toread afterwards, however that contact, that discussion, this exchange of views,that's the most valuable. And from year to year is becoming more alive and is a goodexample of how a humanistic discipline is linguistics, which otherwise isdeeply scientific, because the language will be applied all the techniques haveoccurred and to what extent Creek and to what extent it from all points of view, from advertising, from the point of view of the use of words, of words, phrases, in politics or in the case to convince someone, etc.
What hasdrawn your attention in this Congress, what would you highlight?
Critical Analysis of Vocabulary, Critical Analysis of the phraseology, the use of linguistics with all kinds of purposes, beyond any doubt it is very promising, which is opening the prospect of Linguistics is notonly a scientific discipline as it happens with structural linguistics, which considers language as a system. Then not only studying the relationship between different phonemes has a link which might be of opposition or of communication, but also to what extent there is an intention behind it. The intention which is contained by the speech and how precisely through that speech we can seek a means to influence others through press, through the linguistic utterance.
Your speech at the Congress was one of the most anticipatedand managed to generate interest right from its suggestive title, what did youtry to convey trough it?
The presentation I gave had had not a big flashing title, "The language of the gods and ghosts." It dealt with transmitting the idea of how there has always existed that belief in beings from another world, any world, that is why wealso talk about ghosts, every being which is not of this world, speaks in avery special way to our own, we saw how far this could be linked with music,with folklore, with popular tales, where you can see a trace of such thinking, but with the search of a perfect language. Such a notion of the existence of a language which isabsolutely perfect, where a relationship between the name and the thing is notcapricious, but based precisely on the very essence of being. He also talked about linguistic taboo language and dealingwith this we brought up some peculiarities of our language, the duty-ban, whichis what exactly the word "taboo" means, the prevention of using certain words. For example, when somebody is introducing his wife he is not exactly using a word meaning "she who is married to me" but "woman" is a general term, "spouse" means promised, and so far, so on. All these sort of issues rooted to these superstitions, to those ideas around the word.
Finally, what is the impression this Congress has left?
I think Congress has been a success. Everyone who has organized it can be really happy and generally speaking the whole of the University of Valladolid, because it is a very clear way of showing how far the future is assured. In addition, these young linguists can see that there are tangible results behind their work. You can not work alone, isolated; you need to create an atmosphere and an environment.
Translated by Miguel San José