Professor to discuss how language keeps changing, and whether that’s a good idea

Saint Joseph’s College launches its 100th Anniversary with the first of its Centennial Lecture Series on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

According to faculty speaker Dr. Edward Rielly, Shakespeare used double negatives and Chaucer ended his sentences with prepositions. But in the 18th and 19th centuries, language purists decided to cleanse the language and they came up with rules – of which there are currently 3,500 for English grammar. “No more split infinitives or prepositions squatting at the ends of sentences,” they declared.

“Yet spoken language keeps changing,” says Rielly. “Should we embrace change or hold the line? Or try for somewhere in the middle?” Rielly, an English professor at Saint Joseph’s College, considers language dynamics at a lecture titled “Language Change: Slippery Slope or Change We Can Believe In?” on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. The lecture is part of the “Faculty After Hours Centennial Lecture Series” celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Saint Joseph’s College. The series is free and open to the public. All lectures are held at the Viola George Auditorium of Harold Alfond Hall at the Standish campus.

According to Rielly, the way we use language ignites strong passions, especially when we deviate from traditional rules. “Each person who teaches or learns language confronts whether change in the language is good, bad, inevitable, or even inherent in the nature of the spoken word,” Rielly says.

A 30-minute question-and-answer period follows the presentation, and light refreshments will be served. 893-7723.

January 16, 2012
Contact: Charmaine Daniels at (207) 893-7723 or e-mail