Etymology on Folk Nomenclatures for Sphenostysis stenocarpa (Hoechst ex A. Rich) Harms

  • Post by:
  • July 6, 2019
  • Comments off

Folk nomenclature is habitually established for species that have attained high utilitarian and cultural significance by custodians of such plants worldwide. Such folk names assigned to species often carry etymological values such as therapeutic effects, morphological features, mythical connotations, and their allegorical values. This research sought to unveil the etymology in folk nomenclatures of Sphenostysis stenocarpa (Hosch ex A. Rich) Harms (African Yam Bean). Three hundred and fifty respondents were randomly selected from 13 local communities in Ebonyi State in South-eastern, Nigeria. Data were collected through oral interviews with semi-structural questionnaires, along with focused group discussions. Analysis of data was carried out using simple statistical methods involving frequencies and percentages. The results recorded ten folk nomenclatures assigned to this species in seven dialects affiliated to cultural values within these communities. Etymologically, the results also revealed that out of the ten folk names of AYB cryptic connotations, five reflected their trust in the gods that answered their prayers, two were attributed to the healing potentials inherent in this crop for medicine, three names were associated with the seeds, while one referred to feminist attachment to the crop, another to its resilience/ adaptability to climatic stress and one as a sustainer of farmers. Considering that folk nomenclature is based mainly on qualitative data and the information outside the scientific domain, they are nonetheless highly valued because they are based on long-term interactions, utilization and observations of the custodians of these natural resources. However, these data are equally vulnerable to erosion if not properly documented and conserved for posterity.

Keywords: etymological values, traditional knowledge, classification, custodians, Sphenostysis stenocarpa