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Linguistic Endeavors in late 18th Century Lisbon: John Pickering VI and the Academia Orthográfica Portugueza

Sunday, January 15, 2023

3:00 pm

Linguistic Endeavors in late 18th Century Lisbon: John Pickering VI and the Academia Orthográfica Portugueza
Presented by Professor Rolf Kemmler

According to the 1887 biography prepared by his daughter Mary Orne Pickering (1805-1846), John Pickering VI (1767-1846) embarked on 17th July 1797 as a Secretary to the new US ambassador William Loughton Smith (1758-1812), who would be Minister Plenipotentiary to the Portuguese Court in Lisbon from 1797-1801. From the onset he had stated in a letter to his brother Timothy Pickering (1779-1807) that “during my absence I shall study the Civil Law, and learn as many languages as the time will permit.” (Pickering 1887: 94).

Indeed, he applied himself to studying the Portuguese language and declared himself convinced early on that he would be able to learn it “in a short time” (Pickering 1887: 100). Notwithstanding the progress of his language studies, he went on reporting in subsequent letters to his father, Col. Timothy Pickering (1745-1829), letters recently discovered by Ana Swartz in the archives of the Pickering House show that he was supplementing his autodidactic learning through enrollment in the Portuguese language courses that were offered in late 18th and early 19th century Lisbon by Academia Orthográfica Portugueza that had been founded in 1772 by Lisbon orthographer and language teacher João Pinheiro Freire da Cunha (1738-1811).
In his talk, Professor Kemmler will present the institution and its founder, with particular reference to works and content with which John Pickering VI is likely to have had contact during his language studies.

Born in Reutlingen (Germany), Rolf Kemmler is an integrated member and Secretary of the Centro de Estudos em Letras (CEL; Center for Studies in Letters) of Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD), having been elected as a Foreign Corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Lisbon on November 15, 2016.
With a Habilitation in Language Sciences from UTAD on April 9, 2014, he holds two Ph.D.s (Universität Bremen, Germany; 2005; Universidade de Vigo, Galicia, Spain, 2018), having concluded with his basic studies with the degree of Magister Artium (MA) in Romance Philology at the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen (University of Tübingen; Germany) in 1997.

Location:Pickering House: 18 Broad Street, Salem

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