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Boletín de filología

versión On-line ISSN 0718-9303


VON-STECHER, Pablo. Tell me in what language you publish and I will tell you what kind of scientist you are. Pío del Río Hortega’s reflections on language, patriotism and scientific communications. Boletín de Filología [online]. 2020, vol.55, n.1, pp.429-457. ISSN 0718-9303.

At least since the first half of the 20th century a quandary confronted different figures of Spanish and Hispano-American science: whether to communicate their findings in foreign journals and languages in order to widen their diffusion, or to resort to Spanish and, even with the limitations that that implied, to take a chance on the transcendence of their investigations in the national tongue. In his essay “La ciencia y el idioma” (1937), the physician Pío del Río Hortega substantiates the patriotic importance of disseminating in Spanish and debates with those that decide to do it in foreign languages, such as the physicians and researchers Santiago Ramón y Cajal and Bernardo Houssay (Nobel Prize in 1906 and 1957 respectively). The present article addresses the considerations of Río Hortega, analyses their foundations and, simultaneously, engages in dialogue with the positions of Cajal and Houssay. This work is grounded in a glotopolitical perspective whose purpose is the study of interventions in the public space of language (Arnoux and Del Valle 2010), an operative perspective to inquire into the different representations of Spanish as the language of science. From this perspective, texts are analysed as discourse, that is to say, as formulated in historical conditions of production, which means that their inquiry implies a simultaneous and reciprocal study of their verbal and sociohistorical dimensions (Mangueneau 2012). We anticipate that in the words of Río Hortega there can be read an early warning on the process of linguistic minorization of Spanish in the scientific sphere, that his terminological contributions can be considered an expression of his positioning, and that the positions here formulated anticipate interrogations that currently question those researchers that carry out their work in different languages or places distant from great scientific powers.

Palabras clave : language; scientific communications; representations; linguistic minorization.

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