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Anthony C. Woodbury, Chair CLA 4.304, Mailcode B5100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-1701

Richard P Meier

Professor Ph.D., University of California, San Diego

Richard P Meier

Contact

Biography

Richard P. Meier was educated at the University of Chicago (B.A., Anthropology, 1973), Washington University in St. Louis (M.A., Anthropology, 1975), and the University of California, San Diego (Ph.D., Linguistics, 1982). His postdoctoral work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1982-1984) and at Stanford (1984-86) was in Psychology. He joined the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin in 1986.

Professor Meier's research is inspired by the fact that there are two modalities, or transmission channels, available to human languages: the visual-gestural modality of sign and the oral-aural modality of speech. His publications examine the linguistics of signed languages and their acquisition by deaf children. He seeks insights into the ways in which linguistic organization and child language development are (or are not) shaped by the modality in which a particular language is produced and perceived.

From 1996 through 1998, Professor Meier was Associate Vice President for Research at UT Austin. He is proud of his role in bringing ASL language instruction into the Department of Linguistics, and the College of Liberal Arts. From 2000 to 2010, he directed the ASL language program of the Department of Linguistics. In 2006 he became department chair, a position which he will again hold beginning in June 2015 after taking a two-semester leave during Academic Year 2014-15.

Interests

Linguistics of signed languages, American Sign Language, first language acquisition

ASL 326 • Sign Langs & Signing Communs

40675 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 306
(also listed as LIN 350 )
show description

One of the most important findings of the last 25 years of linguistic research is that the sign languages of the Deaf are natural languages with their own grammars. Moreover, the grammars of these sign languages are independent of whatever spoken language is used in the same community. The existence of sign languages provides an importanttesting ground for many claims about the nature of human languages: by comparing the structure of signed and spoken languages, we gain insights into how languages are shaped by the particular transmission modality in which they are used. To what extent are spoken languages structured the way they are because they are spoken and heard? To what extent are signed languages structured the way they are because they are signed and seen? And, lastly, to what extent are all languages--signed or spoken--structured similarly because they all draw on the same linguistic and cognitive capacities? Among the issues that we will discuss are: 1) How have sign languages been viewed over the last 200 years? 2) How have sign languages developed? 3) Non-signers are often impressed by the pictorial quality (i.e., the iconicity) of many signs in American Sign Language (ASL). Does iconicity have an important impact on the grammatical structure of sign languages? 4) How are the grammars of ASL and other sign languages structured? 5) How are sign languages acquired by deaf children who are being raised in signing households? 6) How do systems such as Manually Coded English differ from American Sign Langauge? 7)What are signing communities like? We will, for example, compare the signing community that once existed on Martha's Vineyard to other signing communities such as the larger American Deaf community and the Nicaraguan Deaf community.

LIN 350 • Sign Langs & Signing Communs

40805 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 306
(also listed as ASL 326 )
show description

One of the most important findings of the last 25 years of linguistic research is that the sign languages of the Deaf are natural languages with their own grammars. Moreover, the grammars of these sign languages are independent of whatever spoken language is used in the same community. The existence of sign languages provides an importanttesting ground for many claims about the nature of human languages: by comparing the structure of signed and spoken languages, we gain insights into how languages are shaped by the particular transmission modality in which they are used. To what extent are spoken languages structured the way they are because they are spoken and heard? To what extent are signed languages structured the way they are because they are signed and seen? And, lastly, to what extent are all languages--signed or spoken--structured similarly because they all draw on the same linguistic and cognitive capacities? Among the issues that we will discuss are: 1) How have sign languages been viewed over the last 200 years? 2) How have sign languages developed? 3) Non-signers are often impressed by the pictorial quality (i.e., the iconicity) of many signs in American Sign Language (ASL). Does iconicity have an important impact on the grammatical structure of sign languages? 4) How are the grammars of ASL and other sign languages structured? 5) How are sign languages acquired by deaf children who are being raised in signing households? 6) How do systems such as Manually Coded English differ from American Sign Langauge? 7)What are signing communities like? We will, for example, compare the signing community that once existed on Martha's Vineyard to other signing communities such as the larger American Deaf community and the Nicaraguan Deaf community.

LIN 373 • Child Language

40755 • Fall 2010
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm GAR 2.112
show description

This course is an introduction to the linguistic and psychological issues involved in the study of how children acquire a first language. Among the questions to be considered are: 1) What is the biological basis for language acquisition? 2) Is the capacity to acquire and use language a ability that is specific to humans? 3) How dependent is the child on the linguistic environment? 4) Does parental reinforcement guide the child's acquisition of language? 5) What is the developmental time course for language? What is the relationship between prelinguistic developments, such as babbling, and the emergence of the child's first words? When do children first produce simple sentences? What kinds of errors do children characteristically make? 6) Are visual-gestural languages, such as American Sign Language, acquired in a different fashion than spoken languages? and 7) Are children better at language learning than adults?


Grading Policy:

Three tests (75% total); three short reaction papers discussing the readings (25% total).

Texts

Erika Hoff. (2008). Language Development. Also: A set of key papers (available on Blackboard) reporting research on language acquisition.

LIN 391 • English Syntax

41250 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CAL 419
show description

For detailed Course Schedule, download attachment.

LIN 393C • Language Acquisition

41615 • Fall 2009
Meets MW 1200-130pm CBA 4.340
show description

 

Course requirements: Readings, 2 research exercises , discussion notes on the readings, and class participation (including question sets about readings).

 

Readings: The readings will be a set of important papers on language acquisition.  Those papers will be available on BlackBoard. It’s important that all readings be read in a timely fashion, that is, before the relevant class period.  

 

I may make a few changes in the readings as the semester progresses.  So stay tuned.

 

Discussion notes: To foster your understanding and integration of the readings, you will be asked 1) to submit brief questions about the readings, and 2) to turn in four “discussion notes.”  The discussion notes will be two- to three-page critical commentaries on one of the papers from the period prior to (and including) the due date (or your notes may concern a closely related subset of those readings.)  These notes should not be a summary of what you have read.  Rather, they should be evaluative: what’s right about the paper and why?  Do you have concerns about the paper?  If so,  what are they?  Or, you might suggest an additional study/experiment that would help resolve the issues raised in the paper.  Or, if you happen to know of literature not discussed in class that is of particular relevance to whatever paper you are commenting on, discuss that literature.  In some instances, I have assigned review chapters that do not constitute the original, primary report of an empirical study.  In these instances, any concerns that you might have about the experimental methods used in the studies reviewed in such chapters should cause you to go off to PCL, or to go online, to track down the primary reference.

 

            Due dates: 9/20, 10/11, 11/6, 11/27

 

Questions regarding the readings: Seven times over the course of the semester, I ask each of you to submit three questions or comments regarding the week’s readings.  These questions can be small (e.g., the meaning of some term) or big (e.g., how author X’s claims can be reconciled with those of Y).  These questions are to 1) make sure that the class is on top of the readings, and 2) to help me to organize class discussion.  I would generally expect that your questions will get more sophisticated as the semester progresses.  Please submit these questions via email; in your subject line state “Question Set 3” or “Question Set 4”, etc.  You can submit these on your own schedule.

 

Research exercises: The two research exercises will be designed to provide you with some experience working with data from native speakers of child language.  Your task will be to use data available from the Child Language Data Exchange System.

 

http://childes.psy.cmu.edu/

 

This site at Carnegie-Mellon University has an extensive array of samples of children’s spontaneous speech.  As you’ll notice there are transcripts from a variety of languages—not just English.  The transcripts have also been extensively annotated, specifically with regard to the part of speech of children’s words.  I’ll soon be handing out a detailed handout that describes that the first assignment.  In the meantime, you might want to start looking around on the CHILDES site.

 

In all your writing for this class, please follow a standard manual of style: either that of the LSA or the APA Publication Manual.  Pay close attention to issues of how to cite the literature, reference style, and the formatting of tables and figures.

 

Method of evaluation: The research exercises will count 50% of your grade, with each counting 25%.  The 4 discussion notes will make up 40% of your course grade. Class participation, including the question sets, will count 10%.

 

Note that it should go without saying that the work you turn in for this class will represent your own efforts.  Plagiarism--that is, turning in work that is not your own--will merit an F (specifically, a zero) for the assignment in question.  Note that copying material from a published (or unpublished) source without proper citation and without the use of quotation marks constitutes plagiarism.

For a detailed Course Schedule, download attachment.

ASL 326 • Sign Langs & Signing Communs-W

40365 • Spring 2009
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 203
show description

One of the most important findings of the last 25 years of linguistic research is that the sign languages of the Deaf are natural languages with their own grammars. Moreover, the grammars of these sign languages are independent of whatever spoken language is used in the same community. The existence of sign languages provides an important
testing ground for many claims about the nature of human languages: by comparing the structure of signed and spoken languages, we gain insights into how languages are shaped by the particular transmission modality in which they are used. To what extent are spoken languages structured the way they are because they are spoken and heard? To what extent are signed languages structured the way they are because they are signed and seen? And, lastly, to what extent are all languages--signed or spoken--structured similarly because they all draw on the same linguistic and cognitive capacities? Among the issues that we will discuss are: 1) How have sign languages been viewed over the last 200 years? 2) How have sign languages developed? 3) Non-signers are often impressed by the pictorial quality (i.e., the iconicity) of many signs in American Sign Language (ASL). Does iconicity have an important impact on the grammatical structure of sign languages? 4) How are the grammars of ASL and other sign languages structured? 5) How are sign languages acquired by deaf children who are being raised in signing households? 6) How do systems such as Manually Coded English differ from American Sign Langauge? 7)What are signing communities like? We will, for example, compare the signing community that once existed on Martha's Vineyard to other signing communities such as the larger American Deaf community and the Nicaraguan Deaf community.

Publications

Meier, Richard P. 1981. Icons and morphemes: Models of the acquisition of verb agreement in ASL. Papers and Reports on Child Language Development 20:92-99.

Meier, Richard P. 1982. Icons, Analogues, and Morphemes: The Acquisition of Verb Agreement in American Sign Language. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Linguistics, University of California, San Diego.
 
Meier, Richard P. 1984. Sign as creole. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 7:201-202.
 
Newport, Elissa L., & Meier, Richard P. 1985. The acquisition of American Sign Language. In: The Crosslinguistic Study of Language Acquisition. Volume 1: The Data, ed. by Dan I. Slobin. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 881-938. 
 
Meier, Richard P., & Bower, Gordon H. 1986. Semantic reference and phrasal grouping in the acquisition of a miniature phrase structure language. Journal of Memory and Language 25:492-505.
 
Morgan, James L., Meier, Richard P., & Newport, Elissa L. 1987. Structural packaging in the input to language learning: Contributions of intonational and morphological marking of phrases to the acquisition of language. Cognitive Psychology 19:498-550.
 
Meier, Richard P. 1987. Elicited imitation of verb agreement in American Sign Language: Iconically or morphologically determined? Journal of Memory and Language 26:362-376.
 
Morgan, James L., Meier, Richard P., & Newport, Elissa L. 1989. Facilitating the acquisition of syntax with cross-sentential cues to phrase structure. Journal of Memory and Language 28:360-374.
 
Meier, Richard P. 1990. Person deixis in American Sign Language. In: Susan D. Fischer & Patricia Siple (eds.), Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research. Vol. 1: Linguistics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 175-190.
 
Meier, Richard P., & Newport, Elissa L. 1990. Out of the hands of babes: On a possible sign advantage in language acquisition. Language 66:1-23.
 
Meier, Richard P. 1991. Language acquisition by deaf children. American Scientist 79:60-70. [My responses to letters to the editor generated by this paper were published in v. 79, May-June 1991, pp. 188-189 and in v. 79, Sept.-Oct 1991, pp. 389-390.]
 
Meier, Richard P. 1993. A psycholinguistic perspective on phonological segmentation in sign and speech. In: Geoffrey R. Coulter (ed.), Phonetics and Phonology. Vol. 3: Current Issues in American Sign Language Phonology. San Diego: Academic Press, pp. 169-188.
 
Meier, Richard P. 1993. Review of Biological and Behavioral Determinants of Language Development, ed. by N. A. Krasnegor, D. M. Rumbaugh, R. L. Sciefelbusch, & M. Studdert-Kennedy (Erlbaum, 1991). Contemporary Psychology 38:520-522.
 
Meier, Richard P. 1993. Review of Universal Grammar and American Sign Language by Diane C. Lillo-Martin (Kluwer, 1991). Language 69:142-147.
 
Meier, Richard P. 1994. Review of The Phonetics of Fingerspelling by Sherman Wilcox (John Benjamins, 1992). Language 70: 808-811.
 
Meier, Richard P. 1995. Review of The Language Instinct, by Steven Pinker (William Morrow, 1994). Language 71: 610-614.
 
Meier, Richard P., & Willerman, Raquel. 1995. Prelinguistic gesture in deaf and hearing children. In: Karen Emmorey & Judy Reilly (eds.), Language, Gesture, and Space. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 391-409.
 
Azuma, Shoji, & Meier, Richard P. 1997. Open class and closed class: Sentence-imitation experiments on intrasentential codeswitching. Applied Psycholinguistics 18: 257-276.
 
Meier, Richard P., McGarvin, Lynn, Zakia, Renée A. E., & Willerman, Raquel. 1997. Silent mandibular oscillations in vocal babbling. Phonetica 54: 153-171.
 
Cormier, Kearsy, Wechsler, Steven, & Meier, Richard P. 1998. Locus agreement in American Sign Language. In: Gert Webelhuth, Jean-Pierre Koenig, & Andreas Kathol (eds.), Lexical and Constructional Aspects of Linguistic Explanation. Stanford: CSLI Press, pp. 215-229.
 
Holzrichter, Amanda S., & Meier, Richard P. 1998. Fingerspelling. In: Paul Bouissac (ed.), Encyclopedia of Semiotics. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 245-246.
 
Holzrichter, Amanda S., & Meier, Richard P. 1998. Sign languages. In: Paul Bouissac (ed.), Encyclopedia of Semiotics. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 578-582.
 
Meier, Richard P., Mauk, Claude, Mirus, Gene, & Conlin, Kimberly E. 1998. Motoric constraints on early sign acquisition. In: Eve Clark (ed.), Papers and Reports in Child Language Development, v. 29. Stanford: CSLI Press, pp. 63-72.
 
Conlin, Kimberly E., Mirus, Gene, Mauk, Claude, & Meier, Richard P. 2000. Acquisition of first signs: Place, handshape, and movement. In: Charlene Chamberlain, Jill P. Morford, & Rachel Mayberry (eds.), Language Acquisition by Eye. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 51-69. 
 
Holzrichter, Amanda S., & Meier, Richard P. 2000. Child-directed signing in American Sign Language. In: Charlene Chamberlain, Jill P. Morford, & Rachel Mayberry (eds.), Language Acquisition by Eye. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 25-40. 
 
Meier, Richard P. 2000. Shared motoric factors in the acquisition of sign and speech. In: Karen Emmorey & Harlan Lane (eds.), The Signs of Language Revisited. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 331-354.
 
Meier, Richard P. 2000. Letter to editor: “Diminishing diversity of signed languages.” Science 288: 1965. (June 16, 2000)
 
Meier, Richard P. 2001. Review of Second Language Acquisition and the Critical Period Hypothesis, ed. by David Birdsong (Erlbaum, 1999). Journal of Child Language 28: 222-228.
 
Mirus, Gene R., Rathmann, Christian, & Meier, Richard P. 2001. Proximalization and distalization of sign movement in adult learners. In: Valerie L. Dively, Melanie Metzger, Sarah Taub, & Anne Marie Baer (eds.), Signed Languages: Discoveries from International Research. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press, pp. 103-119.
 
Cheek, Adrianne, Cormier, Kearsy, Repp, Ann, & Meier, Richard P. 2001. Prelinguistic gesture predicts mastery and error in the production of first signs. Language 77: 292-323.
 
Meier, Richard P. 2002. The acquisition of verb agreement: Pointing out arguments for the linguistic status of agreement in signed languages. In: Gary Morgan & Bencie Woll (eds.), Directions in Sign Language Acquisition. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 115-141.
 
Meier, Richard P., Cheek, Adrianne, & Moreland, Christopher J. 2002. Iconic versus motoric determinants of the form of children's early signs. In: Barbora Skarabela, Sarah Fish, & Anna H.-J. Do (eds.), BUCLD 26: Proceedings of the 26th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, vol. 2, pp. 393-405. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press. 
 
Currie, Anne-Marie, Meier, Richard P., & Walters, Keith. 2002. A crosslinguistic examination of the lexicons of four signed languages. In: Richard P. Meier, Kearsy Cormier, & David Q. Quinto-Pozos (eds.), Modality and Structure in Signed and Spoken Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 224-236. 
 
Meier, Richard P. 2002. Why different, why the same? Explaining effects and non-effects of modality upon linguistic structure in sign and speech. In: Richard P. Meier, Kearsy Cormier, & David Q. Quinto-Pozos (eds.), Modality and Structure in Signed and Spoken Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-25. ["Marketing Sample" containing pp. 1-20 available here under "Contents."]
 
Meier, Richard P., Cormier, Kearsy, & Quinto-Pozos, David G. (eds.). 2002. Modality and Structure in Signed and Spoken Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 480pp. [Paperback edition, published 2009.]
 
Meier, Richard P. 2006. The form of early signs: Explaining signing children’s articulatory development. In: Brenda Schick, Marc Marschark, & Patricia E. Spencer (eds.), Advances in the Sign Language Development of Deaf Children. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 202-230.
 
Meier, Richard P. 2006. Modality issues in signed and spoken language. In Brown, Keith (ed.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edition, v. 8: pp. 197-203. Oxford: Elsevier. 
 
Pizer, Ginger C., Keith Walters, & Richard P. Meier. 2007. Bringing up baby with baby signs: Language ideologies and socialization in hearing families. Sign Language Studies 7: 387-430.
 
Meier, Richard P. 2008. Channeling language. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 26: 451-466.
 
Meier, Richard P., Mauk, Claude, Cheek, Adrianne, & Moreland, Christopher J. 2008. The form of children’s early signs: Iconic or motoric determinants? Language Learning & Development 4: 63-98.
 
Pizer, Ginger C., Kathleen M. Shaw, & Richard P. Meier. 2008. Joint attention and child-directed signing in American Sign Language. In Harvey Chan, Enkeleida Kapia, & Heather Jacob (eds.), Boston University Conference on Language Development 32 (Nov. 2-4, 2007) Proceedings Supplement: http://www.bu.edu/bucld/proceedings/supplement/vol32/
 
Meier, Richard P. 2008. Modality and language acquisition: Resources & constraints in early sign learning. In: Ronice Müller de Quadros (ed.), Sign Languages: Spinning and Unraveling the Past, Present, and Future [Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research, Florianopolis, Brazil]. Petrópolis, Brazil: Editora Arara Azul, pp. 325-346.  [Download]
 
Pizer, Ginger, & Meier, Richard P. 2008. Child-directed signing in ASL and children’s development of joint attention. In: Ronice Müller de Quadros (ed.), Sign Languages: Spinning and Unraveling the Past, Present, and Future [Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research, Florianopolis, Brazil]. Petrópolis, Brazil: Editora Arara Azul, pp. 459-474. [Download]
 
Mauk, Claude, Lindblom, Björn, & Meier, Richard P. 2008. Undershoot of ASL locations in fast signing. In: Josep Quer (ed.), Signs of the Time: Selected Papers from TISLR 2004. Hamburg: Signum, pp. 3-23
 
Meier, Richard P., Aristar-Dry, Helen, & Destruel, Emilie (eds.). 2009. Text, Time, & Context: Selected Papers of Carlota S. Smith. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
 
Meier, Richard P. 2009. “Carlota S. Smith.” In: Harro Stammerjohann (ed.), Lexicon Grammaticorum: A Biobliographical Companion to the History of Linguistics. Tubingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
 
Meier, Richard P., & Lillo-Martin, Diane C. 2010. Does spatial make it special? On the grammar of pointing signs in American Sign Language. In: Donna B. Gerdts, John Moore, & Maria Polinsky (eds.), Hypothesis A/Hypothesis B: Linguistic Explorations in Honor of David M. Perlmutter. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 345-360.
 
Pizer, Ginger, Meier, Richard P., & Points, Kathleen S. 2011. Child-directed signing as a linguistic register. In: Rachel Channon & Harry van der Hulst (eds.), Formational Units in Signed Languages. Nijmegen/Berlin: Ishara Press/Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 65-83.
 
Lillo-Martin, Diane, & Meier, Richard P.  2011. On the linguistic status of ‘agreement’ in sign languages.  Theoretical Linguisitcs 37: 95-141. [This was a “target article” accompanied by 8 invited commentaries in the same issue of the journal. Also one commentary, along with our response, was published in the subsequent issue.]
 
Lillo-Martin, D., & Meier, Richard P. 2011. Response to commentaries: Gesture, language, and directionality.  Theoretical Linguistics 37: 235-246.
 
Meier, Richard P., & Lillo-Martin, Diane. 2012. Response: The apparent reorganization of gesture in the evolution of verb agreement in signed languages. Theoretical Linguistics 38: 153-157.
 
Meier, Richard P. 2012. Language and modality. In: Roland Pfau, Markus Steinbach, & Bencie Woll (eds.), Sign Language: An International Handbook (v. 37 of the Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 574-601.
 
Meier, Richard P. 2012. Review of Deaf Around the World: The Impact of Language, ed. by Gaurav Mathur & Donna Jo Napoli (Oxford University Press, 2011). Language 88: 436-439. doi: 10.1353/lan.2012.0044
 
Shield, Aaron, & Meier, Richard P.  2012. Palm reversal errors in native-signing children with autism. Journal of Communication Disorders 45: 439-454.
 
Kowalsky, Jilly, & Meier, Richard P.  2013. The sign INSTITUTE and its derivatives: A family of culturally-important signs. Sign Language Studies 13: 291-315. doi: 10.1353/sls.2013.0009
 
Pizer, Ginger, Walters, Keith, & Meier, Richard P. 2013. “We communicated that way for a reason”: Language practices and language ideologies among hearing adults whose parents are deaf. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 18: 75-92. 
 
Meier, Richard P., & Lillo-Martin, Diane. 2013. The points of language. In: POINTING – Where embodied cognition meets the symbolic mind. Special issue (ed. by Massimiliano L. Cappuccio) of Humana.Mente – Journal of Philosophical Studies 24: 151-176.
 
Shield, Aaron, & Meier, Richard P. 2014. The acquisition of sign language by deaf children with autism. In: David Quinto-Pozos (ed.), Multilingual aspects of signed language communication and disorders. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters, pp. 90-122.
 
Shield, Aaron & Meier, Richard P. 2014. Personal pronoun avoidance in deaf children with autism. In: Will Orman & Matthew J. Valleau (eds.), BUCLD 38: Proceedings of the 38th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, pp. 403-415. [Download]
 
Looney, Veronica, & Meier, Richard P. In press. Genie’s middle-finger points and signs: A case study. Gesture.
 
Shield, Aaron, Meier, Richard P., & Tager-Flusberg, Helen. In submission. The use of sign language pronouns by native-signing children with autism.
 
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