Object Categorization According to Navajo Classificatory Verbs of the Si-perfective Neuter Verb Form: A Survey of Ten Navajo Language Speakers

Abstract:
This study examined Navajo language speakers’ categorization of objects according to classificatory verb stem choices. In particular, younger and older Navajo language speakers’ classificatory verb stem choices were compared across three categories of objects: familiar, unfamiliar, and sets of same objects differing in presentation. Ten Navajo language speakers were presented with 59 objects and speakers’ classificatory verb stem choices were recorded. No differences were found between the age groups’ verb stem choices. Younger speakers were just as proficient as older speakers in verb stem categorization of objects. They reasoned that their choices were influenced by older Navajo language speakers while older members categorized a variety of objects into the [-a] verb stem category. These findings support prototype theory, which allows for the inclusion of a wide variety of objects to that do not immediately appear to share a common attribute.

Author: 

Leesa Johnson

Chair: 

K. Tsianina Lomawaima

Publication: 

thesis

Year: 

2000

Arizona State Museum: 

M9791 J663
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences