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Review of  Paradigms in Phonological Theory

Reviewer: Elizabeth J. Pyatt
Book Title: Paradigms in Phonological Theory
Book Author: Laura J. Downing Tracy Alan Hall Renate Raffelsiefen
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard
Issue Number: 16.2396

Discuss this Review
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Date: Tue, 09 Aug 2005 20:40:30 -0400
From: Elizabeth Pyatt :
Subject: Paradigms in Phonological Theory

EDITORS: Downing, Laura J.; Hall, T. Alan; Raffelsiefen, Renate
TITLE: Paradigms in Phonological Theory
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press.
YEAR: 2005

Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Penn State University


This volume is a series of articles focusing on theoretically defining how
output forms can be remodeled based on a paradigm within the Optimality
Theory model. Linguists working with morphologically complex languages,
especially their historical aspects, are all familiar with changes in word
forms showing the effects of ''paradigm leveling'' or ''analogy'' in
Neogramammarian terms. The challenge for modern theoretical linguists has
been how to consistently model these changes so that the data can be
accounted for without necessarily resorting to a series of ad hoc accounts.

One of the appeals of Optimality Theoretical accounts of
morphophonological phenomena is that it postulates that grammars include a
variety of competing constraints which, depending on which constraint has
priority, causes different output forms to be realized. An account of
paradigm leveling can be devised by invoking the notion of paradigm
identity constraints requiring forms to have similar forms outranking
competing phonological or phonetic constraints or outranking constraints
on preserving underlying original lexical input forms.

As this collection of papers show though, formulating the constraints so
that correct output forms are produced is still a complex task. Linguists
interested in the nature of morphological paradigms and issues of how
morphology and phonology interact will find in-depth discussions of a
variety of issues including how paradigms are defined, how base forms are
determined and how different constraint rankings change which output forms
win. These articles cover a wide range of languages including Hebrew,
Latin, Jita, English, Hungarian, Spanish and others. This volume also
includes theoretical articles by McCarthy and Kenstowicz.


The first article is the introduction by editors Laura Downing, T. Alan
Hall and Renate Raffelsieffen. The article provides an overview of how
paradigms in were analyzed in linguistic theory from 19th century on. For
much of the time, paradigms were viewed as peripheral or an epiphenomenon
in phonological analyses. Morphology was not ignored altogether, as can be
seen in the theory of lexical phonology, but some paradigmatic effects
were attributed to cyclic application of some phonological rules
interleaved with affixation. With the advent of Optimality Theory, the
relation of morphology and phonology was reevaluated and Downing, Hall and
Raffelsieffen identify several theoretical proposals. To account
for ''cyclic effects'', phonologists including Benua's Transderivational
Correspondence Theory (1997) proposed that constraints could be evaluated
recursively, thus replicating the interleaving of phonology and
affixation. Candidates showing cyclicity or paradigm effects are said to
be obeying a high order Output-Output Identity constraint (O-O-Ident)
requiring the base form to be the same in both derived forms and underived
forms. However this approach is questioned by some, including McCarthy
(Chapter 8, this volume) because rankings must change between recursions
to account for the forms, this diverging from the OT parallelism

Another approach discussed in the introduction is a non-recursive Base-
Priority approach in which a morphologically complex form is evaluated
with one set of constraints, including one of a family of Output-Output (O-
O) identity constraints. Most of the papers in this volume use the Base
Priority approach in which individual forms are evaluated individually
against a base, or the related Symmetric approach (Kenstowicz, McCarthy
this volume) in which entire paradigms are evaluated together.
Interestingly, Base-Priority approaches do not require the output
correspondences to be always between a ''non-derived'' and ''derived'', but
can be between two derived forms such as a future and imperative form (Bat
El, Chapter 3, this volume). Thus , Downing et. al. note that more
leveling phenomena can be accounted for. A major theme, therefore, is
determining which form is the base used to evaluate other members of the

The second article ''The Morphological Basis of Paradigm Leveling'' Adam
Albright discusses paradigm leveling within one class of Latin nominal
declensions as exemplified in the change of /hono:s/ 'honor-NOM'
to /hono:r/, to be more consistent with oblique forms such
as /hono:ris/ 'honor-GEN'. Historically, the root for 'honor' was s-
final /hono:s-/ resulting in older forms like /hono:sis/ 'honor-GEN'. At
some point, Latin /s/ surfaced as /r/ in intervocalic position, causing
forms like /hono:sis/ to surface as /hono:ris/, while /hono:s/ 'honor-NOM'
remained unaffected. Thus this noun had two forms of a root in its
paradigm -- /hono:s/ (nominative) and /hon:or/ -- (all other forms). This
was leveled in favor of the -r form via a O-O-Ident constraint. The
question Albright asks is why the oblique -r form was chosen as a
candidate base. Intuitively, it has been known that oblique forms
(genitive, dative, etc) should be treated as the base form over nominative
forms; hence Albright notes that Latin paradigm leveling effects should
favor oblique forms. As evidence for favoring the oblique as the base over
the nominative, Albright provides statistical evidence from corpus studies
showing that oblique forms are more often written in texts than the
nominative. In addition, Albright points out that later Romance borrowings
like Spanish ''noche'' 'night', French ''nuit'' 'night' and
Italian ''notte'' 'night' are descendents of the Latin oblique root for
night , ''nocte'' /nokte/ with a /t/, not the nominative ''nox'' /noks/ with
no /t/. Finally, Albright notes, that there are a variety of nouns in
Latin where the oblique form cannot be predicted from the nominative. As a
minimal set, he mentions four nominatives ending with -us which have
differently formed obliques (''populus, populi'' 'people', ''corpus,
corporis'' 'body', /manus, manu:s/ 'hand', ''genus, generis'' 'kind'). Based
on statistical frequency and predictability across paradigms, Albright
argues that Latin speakers considered the oblique to be the true base, and
favored for leveling effects.

In the third article, ''Competing Principles of Paradigm Uniformity:
Evidence From the Hebrew Imperative Paradigm,'' author Outi Bat-El
discusses the forms of modern Colloquial Hebrew imperatives in relation to
other members of the verb paradigm, in particular the future. Like other
Semitic languages, Hebrew verbal morphology is characterized by
combinations of a series of consonantal roots representing the verb lexeme
combined with different templates of vowels, affixes and truncations for
each verb form. Bat-El argues that the Hebrew imperatives are formed by
truncating the initial segments of a future form where ranked markedness
constraints determine how much is deleted. Hebrew verb tenses are marked
for gender, so the masculine future is truncated to form a masculine
imperative, while feminine futures are truncated to form a feminine
imperative. In some cases though, Bat-El argues that the constraint
hierarchy does not allow a winning candidate to surface from truncation of
the future. In these cases, if a masculine imperative can be formed, then
the feminine imperative will be formed from the masculine future base plus
a feminine marker. Therefore, there is competition in which form will be
used as a base. In Optimality terms, Bat-El analyzes this as Existence (a
form must be realized) outranking Structural Identity (a form uses the
same base). However, if not even a masculine can be formed, then no
imperatives will be formed; that is Structural Identity out ranks
Existence in this case. To account for this paradoxical change in
ordering, Bat-El proposes that the future-imperative is a ''sub-paradigm''.
As long as one imperative can surface based on the future, then the
constraints allow both imperatives to be formed. Bat-El contrasts the
formation of the imperative in Colloquial Hebrew with Tiberian Hebrew. At
that stage, a number of markedness constraints prevent the imperative and
future form from surfacing with identical bases, However there are no gaps
in the Imperative, meaning Existence is respected throughout the entire
paradigm. In Colloquial Hebrew, Output-Output constraints prevent
alternate bases from surfacing, even if gaps are formed.

The next article is Luigi Burzio's ''Sources of Paradigm Uniformity'' which
focuses on the relationship on ''closeness'' of two related forms and the
tendency for paradigm leveling to occur. Bruzio gives the example of the
English word ''larynx'' /'lær.Inks/ shows stress shift in the irregular
plural ''larynges'' /la.'rIn.jis/, but not in the regular plural ''larynxes''.
Similarly, Spanish inflected imperfect forms maintain consistent stress,
but exhibits stress shift in the infinitive (1). Note that in the case
of ''amábamus'' 'we loved', the effects of paradigm levelling have caused
the stress to shift from the original position it had in Latin.

(1) Forms of Spanish ama 'love'
a'ma-bas 'you loved
a'má-bamos 'we loved' < ama'ba:mus (Latin)
a'mar 'to love' < a'ma:re (Latin)
a'mable 'loveable'

The intuition is that forms which are semantically and
morphologically ''closer'' are more likely to show effects of paradigm
leveling. Burzio proposes that ''closeness'' can be calculated as a gradient
using Hebb's (1949) notion of entailment relationships between two items.
Criteria for determining whether entailments exist between forms are
closeness in meaning and sharing phonological (segmental/metrical)
material. Forms sharing a number of entailments, may be ''attracted''
enough, in some cases the attraction is ''strong'' enough that paradigm
leveling may cause paradigm leveling where phonological information in
forms is made to be closer or even identical.

The next section is an OT account of English ''Level 1'' affixes (e.g. -ive)
differ from ''Level 2'' (e.g. -ness) affixes. I had some issues with this
portion of the discussion that I will discuss in the following paragraph.
The final section of the article returns to the issue of morphological
parameters for determining closeness. Burzio's view is that if forms are
close enough semantically, and share some phonological material, then they
may be attracted enough to cause paradigm leveling effects. One criteria
is whether two forms share the same part of speech. For instance, the
Spanish forms ''amabas'' 'you loved' and ''amábamu'' '' we loved' are both
imperfect inflected finite verbs, while the infinitive ''amar'' is a non-
finite verb and the related adjective ''amable'' 'loveable' are different
parts of speech. Therefore the attraction between finite verb forms would
be stronger, and more subject to paradigm leveling than between a non-
finite verb and an infinitive or adjective. Burzio also proposes that
marked categories may be more subject to paradigm leveling because they
contain more entailments that must be satisfied. As an example, Burzio
considers an Old English subjunctive paradigm that would [+subjunctive]
entailment links missing indicative paradigm. As a result, Burzio a
subjunctive form might be more liable to paradigm leveling, and that does
appear to be a general linguistic trend.

As mentioned before, the middle portion of Burzio's article is an analysis
of English Level 1 affixes that cause vowel changes and stress shifts
versus Level 2 affixes which do not change the stem. His basic analysis is
that because words ending with Level 1 affixes are semantically irregular,
the entailments between forms are weakened to the point where additional
phonological processes and alternate roots can override an OO constraint
for stems. A corollary that Burzio proposes that ''Level 1'' affixes which
cause stem changes change the stem to a less phonologically marked form.
An example cited by Burzio is that a regular past tense
like ''weeped'' /wi:pt/ contains a marked combinationo of /i/ plus /pt/
which are normally found ONLY in derived roots. This -ipt cluster is
allowed only because OO constraints or entailments between ''weep''
and ''weeped'' force the root to be the same. In contrast, the irregular
plural ''wept'' /wEpt/ contains the less marked /Ept/ cluster (also found in
underived ''sept''). As I interpret this article, Burzio is predicting that
Level 1 rules cause forms to surface in a less marked form than a Level 2
affix would.

Yet there are counterexamples of ''Level 1'' (or irregular) affixes creating
more marked clusters, not less marked. For instance, Welsh has a number of
plural affixes, the most regular of which is probably ''-(i)au'' as in the
English borrowing ''iard'' /yard/, plural ''iardiau'' /yardye/. Welsh also
contains a number of stem changing plurals where vowels change between the
singular and plural. One pattern is a change of the diphthong ''ia'' /ya/
in the singular to the triphthong ''iei'' /yey/ in the plural as in
Welsh ''iarll'' /yarL/ 'earl' to plural ''ieirll'' /yeyrL/. Historically, this
is a preservation of a fronting rule triggered by Proto Celtic plural /i/
which was deleted in later states, The synchronic result is a cluster
which is marked because it is a triphthong closed by two liquids. Note
that all other derived forms of ''iarll'' (iarlles 'countess', pl.
iarllesau, iarllwaed 'noble blood', show the same stem as
singular ''iarll.'' In addition, there are very few cases of ''ieir''clusters
in underived forms; most are derived from ''iar'' singulars
(e.g. ''patriarch'' 'patriarch', ''patrieruch'' 'patriarchs'
(regular ''patriarchau'' is also attested). Whatever analysis is given to
this plural formation, it would be difficult to argue that the ''iei''
cluster is less marked than ''ia''. These facts suggest that ''Level 1''
alternations effects cannot all be derived from phonological markedness
constraints within the synchronic grammar. Note that all Welsh data is
available in the Concise Welsh Language Dictionary/Geriadur Prifysgol
Cymru (2004).

Another question I had with the article was that I was not able to
determine a reliable method for predicting ''closeness''. For instance,
how ''close'' would two forms have to be in order for paradigm leveling
effects to occur? It seems reasonable that a verb and a nominal
(e.g. ''compel/compulsive'') would have enough semantic distance to not be
subject to paradigm leveling, but what about irregular inflected forms
such as ''keep/kept''). Burzio's article did not appear to have any kind of
principle predicting the maintenance of irregular inflected forms (other
than possible cases of phonological markedness). If anything, one might
predict that common verbs and nouns are LESS likely to be irregular
because of semantic closeness. Instead they are MORE likely to be
irregular. One criterion could be that irregulars have different
phonological roots, and therefore are not as ''close,'' but this to means
seems circular. Irregulars are not as close because they are irregular
forms. I feel this is an interesting conceptualization, but I was not sure
how to apply it to other data.

The next article, Start Davis's ''Capitalistic'' vs ''Militaristic'': The
paradigm Uniformity Effect Reconsidered'' is an extensive review of
Steriade (2000) in which she notes that ''militaristic'' has an aspirated
[th] in he stem while ''capitalistic'' has a flap [D]. Steriade originally
argues that ''capitalistic'' is regular and that ''militaristic'' preserves
the [th] due to paradigm optimization with ''military''. However, Davis
examines other English data and argues that ''militaristic'' is actually the
regular form, while ''capitalistic'' is preserving the foot structure
of ''capital''. Davis presents a series of words in which the voiceless
stops are aspirated despite that fact that they are non-word initial, not
the beginning of a foot and in stressless syllables. Some of these include

(2) English words with aspirated stops in unstressed syllables.

Since these are underived words, a paradigm leveling account could not
account for the aspirated vowels. Instead Davis argues that these weak
syllables are adjoined to the following two-syllable foot to create
a ''super foot'' of three syllables. He uses data for expletive insertion to
show that ''fucking'' can be inserted before or after the target syllables.
According to this analysis, the initial /t/ ''mili[th]aristic'' is aspirated
by regular phonology. However, ''capi[D]alistic'' (derived ''capital'') does
not show aspiration. Davis notes that the /t/ in ''capital'' cannot be
adjoined into a super foot because only syllable follows it; therefore
the /t/ is a flap. In ''capi[D]alistic'', Davis argues that this foot
structure is preserved, causing a flap to surface. The analysis of
aspiration does seem to match both the data and my native speaker
intuition, but interestingly, this is one case where a traditional cyclic
analysis might work. It's also striking that Davis argues for a paradigm
relationship between ''capital'' and ''capitalistic'' (with a Level 1 affix)
whereas Burzio would argue that the relationship would be more distant so
that paradigm leveling might not be predicted.

In the sixth article, ''Jita Causative Doubling Provides Optimal
Paradigms''., Laura J. Downing discusses a phenomenon in the Bantu language
Jita where the causative marker /y/ is attached to all affixes as in ''oku-
gus-i:s-y-an-y-a'' ''to sell to each other'' (lit: cause each other to buy)
where /y/ appears after the root ''gus'' (as /i:/) and again before
the reciprocative and benefactive suffixes. Downing examines older cyclic
analyses and autosegmental floating analyses before arguing that
causative /y/ can be displaced via special alignment constraints and that
doubling is a way to optimize the output of causative forms.

Article seven, ''Paradigmatic Uniformity and Contrast'' by Michael
Kenstowicz gives an overview of different types of paradigm leveling
effects that can be found in data from a variety of languages. In
particular, he distinguishes paradigm effects which cause forms to surface
in a more phonologically similar manner, and paradigm effects which ensure
that different members of a paradigm have distinct forms. An example of
paradigm effects making forms more similar can be found in Spanish
diminutive formation. Spanish diminutives are typically formed with the
ending ''-it(o/a)'' (3a), but the ending surfaces as -''cit(o/a)'' when the
root ends with a consonant. (3b)

libro 'book' librito 'little book'
lavadora 'washing machine' lavadorita 'little washing machine'.

balcon 'balcony' balconcito 'little balcony'
amor 'love' amorcito 'little love'

For some nouns though, if the masculine ends in a consonant, both the
masculine and feminine counterparts surface with ''-cit(o/a)'' even if the
feminine ends with a vowel. For instance masculine ''ladron'' 'thief' has a
diminutive ''ladroncito'', but the feminine ''ladrona'' also has
diminutive ''ladroncita'' instead of predicted ''ladronita.'' Kenstowicz
proposes that a high ranking ParadigmUniformity constraint forces
feminine ''ladroncita'' to surface in parallel to masculine ''ladroncito''.
The paradigm effects forces the forms to be more similar.

In contrast, Kenstowicz presents a number of cases from Slavic declensions
where paradigm effects appear to block cases where two forms would surface
in the same form. An example is the Trigad dialect of Bulgarian where
unstressed /o/ is normally reduced to /a/ (4a). However, this is blocked
in the neuter singular /o/ whenever the counterpart plural ends with
unstressed /a/ (4b).

(4a) d[ó]zhd ~ d[a]zhdóm
zórn-o (*zórna) '' ~ zórn-a 'seeds'
blág-o (*blága) 'blessing' ~ blága 'blessings'

Kenstowicz proposes that a high ranking Paradigm Contrast constraint keeps
these two forms apart. If the /o/ to /a/ reduction had applied as
expected, the singular and plural of ''zorno/zorna'' 'seed' would have
merged into one form ''zorna''. This is an excellent article, and in some
ways I wish it had been the first. It clearly lays out what kinds of
paradigm effects can be found and what some of the theoretical
implications might be. The article also notes that much more work in this
area of analysis is needed.

The eighth article, ''Optimal Paradigms,'' by John McCarthy is a theoretical
article in which McCarthy proposes an Optimal Paradigm (OP) algorithm in
which all members of a paradigm are evaluated jointly for faithfulness
with each other. McCarthy first reviews other approaches and presents
theoretical arguments for rejecting them. For instance. McCarthy argues
that base priority approach like Transderivational Correspondence Theory
(TCT) (Benua 1997) cannot work for consonantal root languages like Arabic
because no ''root'' can be identified, yet he argues that paradigm effects
can still be found McCarthy also rejects Universal Exponence (UE)
(Kenstowicz 1996), because it overpredicts that derived forms can affect
base forms (and McCarthy notes that there is little evidence for this
occurring in linguistic data).

Instead McCarthy hopes to combine the best of both approaches into his
Optimal Paradigm (OP) approach by evaluating all candidates of a paradigm
together for Input-Output and Output- Output constraints. That is,
candidates would consist of entire hypothetical paradigms where OP
violations would be counted as one violation per form (5).

(5) Arabic Verbal Paradigm Candidates
UR: /ʃəerb/+ {t,na,ti,tu,u,ət}
Candidate 1: ʃərbt, ʃrəbt, ʃrəbna, ʃrəbti, ʃrəbtu, ʃərbu, ʃərbət
Candidate 2: ʃərbt, ʃrəbt, ʃrəbna, ʃrəbti, ʃrəbtu, ʃrəbu, ʃrəbət

McCarthy defines an inflectional paradigm as containing ''all and only the
words based on a single lexeme'' and specifically assumes they are ''flat''
although does allow for the possibility of ''subparadigms.'' perhaps similar
to those argued for in Hebrew by Bat El (same volume). Other factors
proposed by McCarthy include ''majority rules'' and attraction to the
unmarked favoring leveling in favor of less marked segments. To provide
empirical examples, McCarthy discusses several cases from Arabic verbal

In the ninth article, ''Paradigm Uniformity Effects Versus Boundary
Effects'', Renate Raffelsiefen reviews English data where morphologically
complex words may have different phonological properties and phonotactic
constraints than those of simple words. The goal of this article is to
distinguish boundary effects from paradigm uniformity effects and propose
a set of criteria for distinguishing between boundary effects and paradigm

Article Ten, ''Uniformity and Contrast in the Hungarian Verbal paradigm'' by
Peter Rebrus and Miklos Torkenczy discusses the relation of two families
of paradigm constraints and how they interact in some Hungarian verbal
paradigms. The first, PAR, is a constraint specifying that the forms of
stems and endings remain constant throughout a paradigm; the second, CON
specifies that each member of the paradigm be phonologically distinct. One
phenomenon discussed by the authors are ''anti-harmony'' effects in
Hungarian suffixes. Hungarian suffixes normally harmonize with the stem
vowel in terms of backness, but the harmony appears to be blocked in some
cases. Rebrus and Torkenczy argue that anti-harmony occurs because
harmonic affixes might create homophonous forms in some paradigms; thus
harmony is blocked when contrast in person and number might be lost.

The other phenomenon Rebrus and Torkenczy discuss the definite versus
indefinite contrast in the Hungarian present indicative which disappears
in the past (i.e. only forms corresponding to the definite surface, but
can be either definite or indefinite). To account for this, the authors
propose that the CON(Person/Number) (Contrast in person and number) is
ranked higher than CON(Definiteness). In cases where homophony might
occur, such as in the past tense, the definiteness distinction is lost so
that PAR(Person/Number) and CON (Person/Number) can be satisfied. Although
this analysis is consistent, I wonder if another analysis for the loss of
the definiteness distinction might also be valid. The Distributed
Morphology framework (Halle and Marantz 1994) proposes that ''peripheral''
features may be deleted when the feature bundles become too complex; this
process is called Impoverishment. For instance, many Indo-European
languages like English show gender in third person singular pronouns
(he/she/it), but lose gender in plurals (they) and non-third person forms
(I/you/we). The Hungarian case where a peripheral feature of definiteness
is lost in non-present tenses could be a similar phenomenon.

The final article is ''A Note on Paradigm Uniformity and Priority of the
Root,'' by Suzanne Urbanczyk which analyzes data from verb paradigms in
Halkomelem, a Salish language of British Columbia using McCarthy's (this
volume) mechanism of comparing outputs across a paradigm. Like other
Salish languages, the root vowel of Halkomelem verb stems is reduced to
schwa, particularly in cases where a CVC root is followed by a CVC suffix.
In perfective stems though, all forms surface with a schwa, even if the
ending is not CVC. Urbanczyk argues that this pattern of overapplication
is a result of a high ranking identity constraint requiring all members of
a paradigm to have the same base form, even if results in marked reduced
vowels in the stem. Urbanczyk also discusses the formation of the
imperfective root from the perfective via reduplication. In other Salish
languages, the imperfective reduplication preserves any schwa from the
perfective, but in Halkomelem, the reduplicated syllable surfaces with the
underlying root vowel. Urbanczyk's proposes that the root vowel is allowed
to surface as phonologically expected because the imperfective paradigm is
distinct from the perfective, so the paradigm uniformity constraint does
not apply in this case.


This volume is a valuable addition to the research into the morphology-
phonology interface. The data comes from a wide range of languages and all
of them present serious challenges to any standard derivational theory.
Paradigm effects appear to be a major family of constraints much like
faithfulness and markedness. But as most authors of this volume would
admit, the challenge is to provide a consistent account across all
languages. One issue is determining the ''scope'' of paradigm effects. Do
they apply only within inflectional paradigms (McCarthy) or across
derivational forms (Davis)? Do complex inflectional paradigms have an
internal structure (Burzio, BatEl) or are they flat (McCarthy)? With
questions like these, future researchers will have plenty of analytical
articles to write.


Benua, L. (1997, 2000) Transderivational Identity: Phonological Relations
Between Words. New York: Garland.

Halle, Morris and Marantz, Alec. (1994) Some Key Features of Distributed
Morphology, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, 21: 275-88.

Hebb, D. O. (1949) The Organization of Behavior: A Neuropsychological
Theory. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Kenstowicz, Michael (1996) Base-Identity and Uniform Exponence:
Alternatives to Cyclicity in Current Trends in Phonology: Models and
Methods, J. Durand and B, Laks, eds., Manchester: European Studies
Research Institute, University of Salford.

University of Wales (2004) Geriadur Prifysgol Cymru (Welsh Language
Dictionary) Concice Online Version

Elizabeth Pyatt earned a Ph.D. in linguistics, specializing in Celtic
phonology, morphology and syntax.

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