Journal article Open Access
Rodrigo Mora, María
In 1789 Lorenzo Hervás y Panduro began the translation into Spanish of his Idea dell'Universo (1778-1787), whose last volumes will include the Catálogo de las lenguas de las naciones conocidas y numeración, división y clases de éstas según la diversidad de sus idiomas y dialectos (1800-1805). In the Introduction of this Spanish version, the author exposes his linguistic conceptions from a speculative perspective, although the work has been highly appreciated for the data collected. The introductory approach relates to those ideas that the Italian preceptists, such as Ludovico Antonio Muratori or Melchiorre Cesarotti, propagated at the time. Thus, in the first pages of the Saggio sulla filosofia delle lingue (1st edition of 1785, final edition in 1800), Cesarotti presents eight historical-linguistic statements that can be analyzed comparatively with Hervás's thought. For his part, Muratori, who was widely read in the illustrated Spain of Luzán or Mayans, will give a new impetus to the "questione della lingua" within a debate in which he will start to appreciate the diatopic idiomatic variation, leading to the notion of substrate, a worth anticipation that Hervás was again taken credit for by Hispanists.
The present study, therefore, aims at determining the possible theoretical relations between illuminist linguistics and the Introduction of Hervás Catálogo de las lenguas, as well as to define, as far as possible, the contextual profile of his work. In addition, this research tries to explain the traditional absence of Lorenzo Hervás y Panduro’s figure within the Italian essay tradition about the European linguistic historiography.