Michael Diercks

Associate Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science; On leave Spring 2024
  • Expertise


    Michael Diercks is interested in documenting and describing understudied languages, with a focus on the Bantu languages of East Africa. His main research interests include syntactic and morphological theory, and the syntax and morphosyntax of the Bantu languages, and a recent expansion into the syntax of word order in verb-initial Nilotic languages in Kenya. Currently he is working to document four Bantu languages from the Luyia subgroup that are spoken in Western Kenya (Lubukusu, Lutirichi, Luwanga, and Llogoori).

    Research Interests

    • Syntactic and morphological theory
    • Morphology and Syntax of Bantu languages 
    • Verb-initial Nilo-Saharan languages (Kipsigis)  
    • The role of information structure in syntactic patterns
    • Documentation and description of understudied languages

    Areas of Expertise


    • Syntactic and morphological theory
    • Syntax and morphosyntax of Bantu languages of East Africa
  • Work


    Diercks, Michael and Justine Sikuku. To appear, 2015. Pragmatic Effects of Clitic Doubling: Two Kinds of Object Markers in Lubukusu. To appear in Linguistic Variation.

    Diercks, Michael, Lindsey Meyer and Mary Paster. 2015. Agreement with conjoined arguments in Kuria. Studies in African Linguistics 44.1: 27-46.

    Diercks, Michael. 2013. Indirect Agree in Lubukusu complementizer agreement. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 31.2: 357-407.

    Carstens, Vicki and Michael Diercks. 2013. Agreeing How? Implications for theories of agreement and locality. Linguistic Inquiry 44.2: 179-237.

    Bax, Anna and Michael Diercks. 2012. Information Structure Constraints on Object Marking in Manyika. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 30.2: 185-202.

    Diercks, Michael. 2012. Parameterizing Case: Evidence from Bantu. Syntax 15.3: 253-286.

    Diercks, Michael. 2011. The morphosyntax of Lubukusu locative inversion and the parameterization of Agree. Lingua 121.5: 702-720.

  • Education


    2010, Ph.D., Linguistics
    Georgetown University

    2008, Master of Science, Linguistics
    Georgetown University

    2004, Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude
    Houghton College

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Introduction to Linguistics
    • Languages in the Field
    • Senior Thesis in Ling & Cog Sci
    • Syntax
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Recipient of the Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching from Pomona College (2015)

    2014. NSF Collaborative Research Grant. Structure and Tone in Luyia. Collaborative research between Pomona College, University of Missouri, and CASL (University of Maryland). Collaborators include Michael Marlo, Vicki Carstens, Mary Paster, David Odden, Chris Green, Meredith Landman, and Kris Ebarb. Pomona budget: approximately $63,000. Overall budget: approximately $485,000.

    2013. Pomona College Hirsch Research Initiation Grant, for fieldwork on languages in Kenya and Tanzania. Awarded in February, 2013, for an amount of $13,205.

    2010. NSF doctoral dissertation research improvement grant entitled “Dissertation research on the morphosyntax of Bukusu.” Co-Principal Investigator along with the Principal Investigator Paul Portner. ($11,951)