hero image
Paul D. Fallon - University of Mary Washington. Fredericksburg, VA, US

Paul D. Fallon

Associate Professor of Linguistics | University of Mary Washington

Fredericksburg, VA, UNITED STATES

Dr. Fallon is an expert on phonology, morphology, historical linguistics, writing systems and Cushitic linguistics


Paul D. Fallon is fascinated by sound patterns and how they interact with other aspects of language, as well as how they change through time. His other areas of expertise include writing systems and dictionaries.

In addition to teaching linguistics courses in the Department of English, Linguistics and Communications, Fallon has researched extensively on the mental representations of sound, the grammar of the Blin language of Eritrea and the historical-comparative reconstruction of the Cushitic languages. He’s published more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles or book chapters on a variety of languages – Greek, Georgian, Chechen, Blin and others – for the proceedings of the World Congress of African Linguistics, the Annual Conference on African Linguistics and the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, as well as in the International Journal of the Humanities. An abridged version of his dissertation, “The Synchronic and Diachronic Phonology of Ejectives,” was published by Routledge in 2002.

One of Fallon’s research projects involves linguistic fieldwork with speakers of the Blin language in Eritrea (Horn of Africa) and focuses on the interaction between the rhythm of the language and the word-building component of the grammar. Another involves the creation of a dictionary database of his field notes. Fallon was awarded a research grant in 2004 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support his work on Blin oral narratives and grammar.

Fallon has been a peer reviewer for the National Science Foundation, acted as associate editor for The International Journal of the Humanities and is on the advisory board of the Linguist List, the world’s largest online linguistic resource.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Cushitic Linguistics

Historical Linguistics



Writing Systems

Accomplishments (1)

National Endowment for the Humanities Research Grant


Education (4)

The Ohio State University: Ph.D. 1998

The Ohio State University: M.S.

Georgetown University: M.A., Linguistics

Georgetown University: B.A., Linguistics

Media Appearances (6)

Fallon presents on Cushitic in Paris

Eagle Eye  online


Associate Professsor of Linguistics Paul D. Fallon presented at the 47th North Atlantic Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics (NACAL), held in Paris from June 24-26, 2019. His paper, entitled “An assessment of Bender’s Proto-Cushitic,” was a scholarly evaluation of the late M. Lionel Bender’s unpublished reconstruction of the ancestral language of many of the languages of the Horn of Africa, including Somali, Oromo and Blin, Dr. Fallon’s special area of focus. His work was supported by a Faculty Research Grant.

view more

Fallon Presents Research at Georgetown Conference

Eagle Eye  online


Associate Professor of Linguistics Paul D. Fallon presented a paper, “A Survey of Reduplication Types in Blin,” at the 2019 Georgetown University Round Table in Washington, D.C. on March 31, 2019. This paper examined the various types of word formation involving the copying of all or part of a word root in both nouns and verbs in the Blin language of Eritrea.

view more

Fallon Featured about Regional Spelling Bee

Eagle Eye  online


Associate Professor of Linguistics Paul D. Fallon was mentioned in The Free Lance-Star in an article about the regional spelling bee. To view the article, visit “‘Meritocracy’ for the win: Fauquier’s Evan Hunter is champ of Fredericksburg Regional Spelling Bee.”

view more

Fallon Presents Research on Cushitic in the Netherlands

Eagle Eye  online


Associate Professor of Linguistics Paul D. Fallon presented the paper, “A ‘Vector Analysis’ of Bender’s Proto-Cushitic” at the 45th annual meeting of the North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics (NACAL), held at the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands, on June 11, 2017. He gave an assessment of ten of the late M. Lionel Bender’s reconstructed roots of Proto-Cushitic, an ancient, reconstructed language of the Horn of Africa.

view more

Fallon Presents at Linguistics Conference

Eagle Eye  online


Associate Professor of Linguistics Paul D. Fallon presented the paper “Lexical Innovation in Cushitic: Fictitious Family or Fragile Unity?” at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), Austin, TX, on Jan. 6, 2017. Using the strict criteria of Orel & Stolbova applied to Christopher Ehret’s reconstruction of Proto-Cushitic, he found that shared lexical innovation alone cannot be used as a diagnostic of Cushitic languages.

view more

Fallon Presents Findings at Afroasiatic Conference

Eagle Eye  online


Associate Professor of Linguistics Paul D. Fallon presented the paper “Are the Agaw languages Cushitic?: A lexical analysis” to the 44th North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics (NACAL), held at the University of Texas, Austin on Feb. 13-14, 2016. His findings investigated the lexical innovations of the Cushitic language family, a linguistic group of East Africa ranging from Egypt to Tanzania.

view more

Articles (1)

Fallon Publishes Research on African Languages

Eagle Eye

Paul Fallon

2015 Associate Professor of Linguistics Paul D. Fallon in the Department of English, Linguistics, and Communication, published his chapter “Coronal ejectives and EthioSemitic borrowing in Proto-Agaw” in the Selected Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, edited by Ruth Kramer, Elizabeth C. Zsiga, & One Tlale Boyer. Fallon’s paper examines the historical reconstruction of Proto-Agaw (PA, also known as Proto-Central Cushitic), the ancestral mother tongue of the languages Blin, Xamtanga, Kemantney, and Awngi, spoken in Eritrea and Ethiopia. Previous work on Proto-Agaw by David Appleyard claimed that ejective consonants in PA are attributable to borrowings, mostly from neighboring EthioSemitic languages. Expanding his earlier examination of velar (back of tongue) consonants, Fallon argues that coronal (tongue-tip) consonants must also be reconstructed for PA and provides 25 examples of native roots and 19 borrowings and analyzes 18 other unclear cases. This study contributes to a more precise reconstruction of PA and a deeper understanding of the lexical strata and borrowings between Agaw and EthioSemitic. The publisher, the Cascadilla Proceedings Project, is both open access online and publisher of library-quality bound printed volumes.

view more