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Stanford Report, July 12, 2000

Linguist, world-class senior sprinter Alphonse Juilland dies

Amemorial service was held July 8 for Professor Emeritus Alphonse Juilland, who died June 30 at Stanford Hospital after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage at his campus home. He was 77.

Juilland was the William H. Bonsall Professor Emeritus of French in the Department of French and Italian, which he chaired in the 1980s. A self-described conservative, he took great pleasure in teasing other academics about their liberal faith in science and reason and founded the Stanford Conservative Forum, which brought conservative speakers to campus.

"[Juilland] was very capable as a teacher and a scholar," said René Girard, professor emeritus of French and Comparative Literature. "He was very frank and had a refreshing personality in a world where people are very timid; where people watch what others say. Juilland was not timid. But he was never unkind." Girard said that Juilland was instrumental in his coming to Stanford in 1980. "He was a good administrator and knew Stanford very well," he said.

Brad Bartanen, a Stanford alumnus and Juilland’s editor for many years, said his friend represented the end of an era. "He was really old school," Bartanen said. "If you ever wanted to picture a professor he was it, with his gray beard and pipe." Bartanen added that Juilland didn’t like intellectuals "but he could keep up with the best of them. He liked the common man."

Later in life, Juilland took up track and became one of the world’s fastest senior sprinters, holding three world records for men over 50. After his retirement from teaching in 1989, he wrote track and field books and had accepted a challenge recently to race a former student, according to family members.

Born in Bucharest and raised in Switzerland, Juilland graduated magna cum laude from the University of Bucharest in 1945 and later earned his doctorate from the Sorbonne in Paris in 1951. He taught at several U.S.universities before his Stanford faculty appointment in 1961.

An internationally renowned linguist who used the framework of structuralism, he was one of the first to use computers to quantitatively analyze language, work that was supported by the National Science Foundation. Highly versatile, he published studies and more than a dozen books on topics such as the English verb, French stylistics, the French novelist Louis-Ferdinand Celine and a dictionary of Romany, the language of gypsies. At Stanford he chaired a committee in the 1960s that established the Linguistics Department. He also was the founding editor of the journals Stanford French Review, Stanford Italian Review and Stanford Literature Review.

In 1983, he almost single-handedly organized a petition drive, persuading 131 faculty to protest a proposed university committee to reassess the university’s relationship with the Hoover Institution. He contended that the investigation would include studying alleged political partisanship and therefore was a “grave threat...to academic freedom.” He told a campus newspaper in 1985 that he expected universities to have more liberals than conservatives because “intellectuals place a heavy premium on reason... As children of the Enlightenment, liberals believe they stand on fact and reason; conservatives know they ultimately stand on faith.”

In 1975 and 1988, he was decorated by the French government for his contributions to French culture and French education in the United States.
Juilland is survived by his daughter, Marie-Jeanne Juilland-Johnson of Redwood City; two brothers, Paul of Lima, Peru, and Jean of Laguna Niguel, Calif.; and five nieces and nephews.