Features of the ethnobotanical folk taxonomy of the Lisu in northern Thailand

SELLERS, Holly - La Trobe University, Linguistics

Since the 1960s, there have been a number of studies seeking to investigate folk taxonomies based on the hierarchy described by Brent Berlin. In Thailand, while there are some recently published quantitative studies of some ethnic groups, only very limited work has been undertaken on the traditional botanical knowledge of the Lisu who live in the northern mountainous areas, and no examination of their ethnobotanical folk taxonomy has previously been conducted. Lisu is a Tibeto-Burman language with approximately one million speakers across Thailand, Myanmar/Burma, China and India. The aim of this project was to create an initial corpus of plant names and uses in Lisu, including their scientific determinations, as well as to investigate their folk taxonomy and other linguistic features. Plant information was collected from two villages over two field trips. This paper discusses the main features of the Lisu botanical folk taxonomy discovered as part of this project.