Plant medicinal use and lexical variation within the folk classification system of the Highland Maya of Chiapas, Mexico
Berg, Ilyssa Faith
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In any local ethnobotanical system of classification, a considerable amount of variation exists in the names given for a plant species, even for a sample of knowledgeable informants. The variation is not applied consistently across the sample of plants and therefore can be productively analyzed in order to understand the patterns within the variation. This thesis examines the extent of variation in lexical and medicinal use responses both within and between two closely related Mayan languages, Tzeltal and Tzotzil. The relationship between medicinal plant use and naming diversity is described and tested for three data groups – Tzeltal, Tzotzil, and the pooled data. The results suggest a weak trend that the more agreement there is regarding a plant species’ medicinal use, the less the diversity of naming, both within and between closely related language groups.