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 Sujeewa Hettiarachchi on the acquisition of constraints on wh-movement; with Tridha Chatterjee on the acquisition of Indian English by Bengali-English bilinguals; with former PhD student Chao-Ting (Tim) Chou on the acquisition of Chinese syntax by English-Chinese bilinguals.
Professor Acrisio Pires has taught courses 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. candidates Will Nediger, Sujeewa Hettiarachchi and Tridha Chatterjee (co-advisor), and Ph.D. pre-candidates Marcus Berger and Marjorie Herbert. Former Ph.D. advisees/alumni include Tim Chou (Tenure-track, Taipei Medical University), David Medeiros (Lecturer, University of New Hampshire), 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).