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University of Pittsburgh

Yasuhiro Shirai


Professor of Linguistics

PhD, University of California at Los Angeles


Yasuhiro Shirai is on sabbatical in 2012-2013, during which time he will hold the following positions:

Invited Scholar at National Institute of Japanese Language and Linguistics (NINJAL)

Visiting Researcher (July-September 2012), Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, The Netherlands

Invited Visiting Professor from Overseas at Sophia University, Tokyo (October 2012-July 2013)

Contact Info:

2828 Cathedral of Learning
Department of Linguistics
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260



Courses Taught

Applications of Linguistics (Ling 1930, Spring 2007)

Second Language Acquisition (Ling 2146, Spring 2007)

Research Methods in Applied Linguistics and Sociolinguistics (Ling 2144, Fall 2006)

Current Issues in Second Language Learning: Rules, Associative Memory, and Language Learning Aptitude (Ling 2147, Fall 2006).


Research Interests

His research interests include L1 and L2 acquisition of tense-aspect morphology, and cognitive models of language acquisition. His articles have appeared in Developmental Science, First Language, Journal of Child Language, Journal of Pragmatics, Language, Language Learning, Studies in Language, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, and TESOL Quarterly. He has (co-)authored and (co-)edited eight books/special issues of journals. He was a Japan Foundation Fellow (2001-2002), is an associate editor of First Language, and serves on the editorial boards of Studies in Second Language Acquisition.


Selected Publications

Costello, W. & Shirai, Y. (in press). The Aspect Hypothesis, defective tense and obligatory contexts: A reply to Haznedar, 2007. Second Language Research.

Shirai, Y. (2010). Semantic bias and morphological regularity in the acquisition of tense-aspect morphology: What is the relation? Linguistics, 48, 171–194.

Ozeki, H. & Shirai, Y. (2010). Semantic bias in the acquisition of Japanese relative clauses. Journal of Child Language, 37, 197-215.

Chen, J. & Shirai, Y. (2010). The development of aspectual marking in Mandarin Chinese. Applied Psycholinguistics, 31, 1–28.

Robinson, P., Cadierno, T. & Shirai, Y. (2009). Time and motion: Measuring the effects of the conceptual demands of tasks on second language speech production. Applied Linguistics, 30, 533–554.

Sugaya, N. & Shirai, Y. (2009). Can L2 learners productively use Japanese tense-aspect markers? A usage-based approach. In R. Corrigan, E. Moravcsik, H. Ouali & K. Wheatley (Eds.), Formulaic language: Volume 2. Acquisition, loss, psychological reality, functional applications. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Shirai, Y. (2009). Temporality in first and second language acquisition. In W. Klein & P. Li (Eds.), The expression of time (pp. 167-193). Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Luk, Z. P. & Shirai, Y. (2009). Review article: Is the acquisition order of grammatical morphemes impervious to L1 knowledge? Evidence from the acquisition of plural -s, articles, and possessive ’s. Language Learning, 59, 721-754.

Yap, F-H., Yiu, E, Chu, P. Wong, S., Kwan, S., Matthews, S., Tan, L-H., Li, P., & Shirai, Y. (2009). Aspectual asymmetries in the mental representation of events:
Role of lexical and grammatical aspect. Memory & Cognition, 37, 587-595.

Shirai, Y. & Ozeki, H. (2007). Introduction to the special issue “The acquisition of relative clauses and the noun phrase accessibility hierarchy: A universal in SLA?” Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 29, 155-167.

Ozeki, H. & Shirai, Y. (2007). Does the Noun Phrase Accessibility Hierarchy predict the difficulty order in the acquisition of Japanese relative clauses? Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 29, 169-196.

Shirai, Y. (2007). The aspect hypothesis, the comparative fallacy, and the validity of obligatory context analysis: A reply to Lardiere (2003). Second Language Research, 23, 51-64.

Sugaya, N. & Shirai, Y. (2007). The acquisition of progressive and resultative meanings of the imperfective aspect marker by L2 Learners of Japanese: Universals, transfer, or multiple factors? Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 29, 1-38.

Nakayama, M., Mazuka, R. & Shirai, Y. (Eds.) (2006). Handbook of East Asian psycholinguistics: Volume 2, Japanese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Li, P. & Y. Shirai (2000). The acquisition of lexical and grammatical aspect [Studies on Language Acquisition, 16]. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Shirai, Y. & Andersen, R. (1995). The acquisition of tense/aspect morphology: A prototype account. Language, 71, 743-62.


Yasuhiro Shirai’s personal Web site