Acrisio Pires

Associate Professor

Linguistics Department

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Research and teaching interests

Syntax: Principles & Parameters, Minimalism, comparative syntax, interfaces syntax–morphology and syntax-semantics, syntactic variation.

Psycholinguistics: first and second language acquisition, bilingualism, syntactic processing and parsing models.

Language change: theories of language change and their connection to language acquisition and learnability.


Courses taught at the University of Michigan:

Undergraduate: Introduction to Language; Introduction to the Symbolic Analysis of Language; Aspects of Meaning; Introduction to Syntax; Generative Syntax; Topics in Linguistics: Language, Cognition and Human Experience; Comparative Linguistics; Language Acquisition across the Lifespan; Introduction to Computational Linguistics and Natural Language Processing.

Graduate: Generative Syntax; Advanced Syntax; Research in Linguistics; Research Writing in Linguistics; Comparative Syntax: Variation and Change in the Romance Languages; Language Acquisition across the Lifespan; Formal and Statistical Methods in Linguistics; Seminar in Syntactic Theory: Minimalism.

Research collaborators

Alejandro Cuza
Ana Lúcia Santos
David Lightfoot
Gonzalo Campos
Hamid Ouali
Heather L. Taylor
Inês Duarte
Jason Rothman
Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes
Samuel D. Epstein
Sarah Thomason
T. Daniel Seely
Tiffany Judy

Past and current PhD dissertation advisees

Will Nediger
Sujeewa Hettiarachchi
Tridha Chatterjee*
Chao Ting Chou*
David Medeiros*
Konstantia (Dina) Kapetangianni*
Christopher Becker
Hamid Ouali*
Andrea Stiasny
Hee-Soo Kim*

Selected publications


Pires, Acrisio. 2006. The Minimalist Syntax of Defective Domains: Gerunds and Infinitives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 190p.

Pires, Acrisio and Jason Rothman, eds. 2009. Minimalist Inquiries into Child and Adult Language Acquisition: Case Studies across Portuguese. In Series Studies on Language Acquisition. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 354p+viii.


Selected Articles and Book Chapters:

Santos, Ana L, Jason Rothman, Acrisio Pires  and Inês Duarte.  In press 2012. Early or late acquisition of inflected infinitives in European Portuguese? Evidence from spontaneous production data. In Festschrift in Honor of Nina Hyams. Ed. M. Becker et al. 38p.

Lightfoot, David and Acrisio Pires. In press 2012. Syntactic Change. Oxford Bibliography Online: Linguistics. Ed. M. Aronoff. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 26p.

Campos, Gonzalo, Acrisio Pires and Jason Rothman. In press 2012. Subject-to-subject raising and the syntax of tense in L2 spanish: a full access approach. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition.

Cuza, Alejandro, Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes, Acrisio Pires and Jason Rothman. In press 2012. The syntax-semantics of bare and definite plural subjects in the L2 Spanish of English natives. International Journal of Bilingualism. XX: 1-19. (online version available 2012)

Pires, Acrisio. 2011. Linguistic competence, poverty of the stimulus and the scope of native language acquisition. In Multiple Perspectives on Bilingualism. Ed. C. Flores. Braga, Portugal: Humus Publishers, p. 115-43.

Pires, Acrisio, Jason Rothman and Ana L. Santos.  2011. L1 acquisition across Portuguese dialects: Modular and interdisciplinary interfaces as sources of explanation. Special Issue: Acquisition at the Linguistic Interfaces. Lingua 121.4: 605-22.

Pires, Acrisio and Jason Rothman. 2011. An integrated perspective on comparative bilingual differences: Beyond the interface problem? Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 1, 74–78.

Santos, Ana L., Ines Duarte, Acrisio Pires & Jason Rothman. 2011. Early inflected infinitives and late V-to-C movement. In Proceedings of the 35th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Ed. N. Danis,  K. Mesh & H. Sung. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press. 540-52.

Pires, Acrisio. 2010. What’s Lost When Languages Are? Science 328: 431

Pires, Acrisio, Jason Rothman and Ana L. Santos. 2010. Acquisition of inflected and uninflected infinitives in child L1 European Portuguese. In Language Acquisition and Development. Ed. J. Costa, A. Castro, M. Lobo and F. Pratas.  Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press. 365-77.

Rothman, Jason, Tiffany Judy, Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes and Acrisio Pires. 2010. On the (un)-ambiguity of adjectival interpretations in L2 Spanish: Informing debates on the mental representations of L2 syntax.  Studies in Second Language Acquisition 32: 47-77. Cambridge University Press.

Pires, Acrisio and Jason Rothman. 2009a. Disentangling sources of incomplete acquisition: An Explanation for competence divergence across heritage grammars. International Journal of Bilingualism 13.2: 211-39. Special issue Understanding the Nature of Early Bilingualism.

Pires, Acrisio and Jason Rothman. 2009b. Child and adult language acquisition, linguistic theory and (microparametric) variation. In Minimalist Inquiries into Child and Adult Language Acquisition: Case Studies across Portuguese, ed. A. Pires and J. Rothman.  Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 5-33.

Pires, Acrisio and Jason Rothman. 2009c. Acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese in Late Childhood: Implications for Syntactic Theory and Language Change. In Minimalist Inquiries into Child and Adult Language Acquisition: Case Studies across Portuguese, ed. A. Pires and J. Rothman. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 129-154.

Pires, Acrisio and Sarah G. Thomason. 2008. How Much Syntactic Reconstruction is Possible? In Principles of Syntactic Reconstruction, ed. G. Ferraresi and M. Goldbach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. p. 27-72.

Pires, Acrisio. 2007. The Derivation of Clausal Gerunds. Syntax: A Journal of Theoretical, Experimental and Interdisciplinary Research 10.2: 165-203.

Pires, Acrisio and Heather L. Taylor.  2007. The Syntax of Wh-in-situ and Common Ground. Proceedings from the  Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society 43, vol. 2. 201-15.

Pires, Acrisio. 2005. Verb movement and clitics: Variation and change in Portuguese.  In Grammaticalization and Parametric Change, ed. M. Batllori, M. L. Hernanz, C. Picallo and F. Roca. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 48-59.

Ouali, Hamid and Acrisio Pires. 2005. Complex tenses, Agreement and Wh-Extraction. In Proceedings of the 31st Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society: General Session and Parasession on Prosodic Variation and Change, ed. R. T. Cover and Y. Kim, 253-64. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society.

Epstein, Samuel D., Acrisio Pires and T. Daniel Seely. 2005. EPP in T: More Controversial Subjects. Syntax: A Journal of Theoretical, Experimental and Interdisciplinary Research 8.1: 65-80.  

Kim, Hee-Soo and Acrisio Pires. 2003. Ambiguity in the Korean Morphological Causative/ Passive. In Japanese/ Korean Linguistics 12, ed. W. McClure. Stanford: Center for the Study of Language and Information/CSLI, p. 255-66.

Pires, Acrisio. 2002. Cue based change: Inflection and subjects in the history of Portuguese infinitives. In Syntactic Effects of Morphological Change, ed. D. Lightfoot. Oxford, Oxford University Press. p. 142-59.    

Contact information

Acrisio Pires
Dept. of Linguistics – University of Michigan
458 Lorch Hall, 611 Tappan St.
Ann Arbor,  MI 48109-1220