Publication details [#1199]

Sakuragi, Toshiyuki and Judith W. Fuller. 2013. Shape and Function in Hmong Classifier Choices. Journal of psycholinguistic research 42 (4) : 349–361. 13 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Cham: Springer


This study examined classifiers in the Hmong language with a particular focus on gaining insights into the underlying cognitive process of categorization. Forty-three Hmong speakers participated in three experiments. In the first experiment, designed to verify the previously postulated configurational (saliently one-dimensional, saliently two-dimensional, and saliently three-dimensional) characteristics of common Hmong classifiers, the participants were presented with pieces of wood in various shapes and were asked to select a classifier for each item. In the second experiment, designed to examine configurational and functional characteristics of two classifiers associated with saliently one-dimensional objects, the participants were asked to rate the acceptability of the two classifiers for different types of zippers. The interaction between the configurational and functional characteristics in the selection of a classifier was further examined in the third experiment, in which two target items—computer software and a computer processor—were respectively presented to the participants in three different manners with varying emphasis on their shapes and functions, and the participants rated the acceptability of different classifiers after each presentation. The results of these experiments indicate limitations of explaining common Hmong classifiers in terms of configurational characteristics and point to a need for greater attention to functional characteristics.