Acrisio Pires is Associate Professor of Linguistics. His research focuses primarily on syntactic theory and comparative syntax, especially within Minimalism. 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? Some of his current projects include a book in preparation for Cambridge University Press, on syntactic theory from a comparative perspective; joint projects with his PhD students Chao-Ting (Tim) Chou, on the acquisition of Chinese syntax by bilinguals, and Will Nediger, on the acquisition of the syntax and semantics of differential object marking in L2 Spanish; and a joint interdisciplinary project on the acquisition of complementation across Portuguese dialects, with colleagues in Europe, the US and Africa.
Professor Acrisio Pires has taught courses in syntax (introduction to syntax, graduate syntax, syntactic theory, Minimalism, comparative syntax), semantics, and a course on language and cognition, with a focus on interfaces between syntax, language acquisition and language change. He has advised or co-advised Ph.D. students carrying out research in syntactic theory, Minimalism, comparative syntax and language acquisition, focusing on English, Chinese, Spanish, Greek, Sinhala, Berber, Russian, Hawaiian, Croatian, Korean and Arabic. He is the advisor or co-advisor of current Ph.D. candidates David Medeiros and Tim Chou and pre-candidates Sujeewa Hettiarachchi and Will Nediger. Former Ph.D. advisees include Gerardo Fernandez-Salgueiro (Tenure-track, National Taiwan Normal University), Dina Kapetangianni, 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 (Post doc in Psychology, U. of Chicago), Emily Coppess (PhD student at U. of Chicago), Charles Crissman (PhD Student in Mathematics, Berkeley U.), Nayana Dhavan (MS in Public Health, Harvard U.), Ed Cormany (PhD student at Cornell U.), Lauren Friedman (PhD student at U. of Pennsylvania) and Shang Kong (Law School student, UofM).
Professor Pires is currently the Graduate Chair in the Linguistics Department and a member of the Advisory Board at LACS/Latin American and Caribbean Studies. He is also currently a member of two committees at the Linguistic Society of America: the Nominating Committee and Linguistics in Higher Education (LiHE).