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Acrisio Pires


Office Information:

Department of Linguistics
611 Tappan St.
458 Lorch Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
phone: 734.647.2156

Psycholinguistics; Syntax; Language Contact


Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park


Acrisio Pires is Professor of Linguistics. His research focuses on syntactic theory and comparative syntax within Minimalism, and on language acquisition and bilingualism. Among some questions that have guided his work are: What constitutes an appropriate theory of human linguistic knowledge, considering syntax and areas it interfaces with? How can such a theory explain variation across human languages? What contribution can comparative syntax and morphosyntax make to the development of scientific models of language? How can linguistic theory and language acquisition research contribute to the explanation of how language change takes place? What factors can lead to differences in the outcome of bilingualism and second language acquisition?

Some of his current projects include a book in preparation for Cambridge University Press, on syntactic theory from a comparative perspective, and various joint projects with his PhD students: with Will Nediger, on the syntax and semantics of differential object marking in L2 Spanish and the nature of inversion in Canadian French; with Marjorie Herbert on bimodal bilingualism;  with Alan Ke and former PhD advisee Sujeewa Hettiarachchi on the second language acquisition of  binding; and with former PhD students Tridha Chatterjee, on the acquisition of Indian English by Bengali-English bilinguals, and Chao-Ting (Tim) Chou, on the acquisition of Chinese syntax by English-Chinese bilinguals.

Professor Acrisio Pires teaches in syntax (introduction to syntax, graduate syntax, syntactic theory, Minimalism, comparative syntax), semantics, language and cognition, language acquisition and bilingualism. He has advised or co-advised Ph.D. students carrying out research in syntactic theory, Minimalism, comparative syntax and language acquisition, investigating the grammar of English, Chinese, Spanish, Greek, Sinhala, Berber, Russian, Hawaiian, Croatian, Korean and Arabic. He is the advisor of current Ph.D. students Will Nediger, Marcus Berger, Marjorie Herbert and Alan Ke (co-advisor). Former Ph.D. advisees/alumni include Tim Chou (Tenure-track, Taipei Medical University), David Medeiros (Tenure-track, California State University, Northridge), Sujeewa Hettiarachchi (Tenure-track, University of Sri Jayewardenepura), Tridha Chatterjee (Lecturer, Boston University),  Gerardo Fernandez-Salgueiro (Tenure-track, National Taiwan Normal University), Dina Kapetangianni (Adjunct faculty, University of North Texas), Hamid Ouali (Associate Professor, U. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), and Andrea Stiasny (Lecturer, Romance Languages, University of Michigan). He has also advised many undergraduate honors students focusing primarily on syntactic theory, Minimalism and/or syntactic change, including Natasha Abner (Tenure-Track, Montclair State U.), Emily Coppess (PhD student at U. of Chicago), Charles Crissman (PhD Student in Mathematics, Berkeley U.), Nayana Dhavan (MS in Public Health graduate, Harvard U.), Ed Cormany (Linguistics PhD graduate, Cornell U.), Lauren Friedman (PhD student at U. of Pennsylvania) and Shang Kong (Law School graduate, UofM).



  • Linguistics
  • Weinberg Institute for Cognitive Science
  • Latin American and Caribbean Studies (faculty affiliate)
  • Romance Languages and Literatures (faculty affiliate)

Field(s) of Study

  • Syntactic theory
  • Minimalism
  • Comparative syntax and morphosyntax
  • Syntactic change
  • Language acquisition
  • Bilingualism
  • Syntax-semantics interface


Highlighted Work and Publications