Plant names in Soqotra

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The Soqotri language is a Semitic language belonging to the so-called "South-Arabian" languages, which are a group of disappearing oral languages within the South Semitic group. So they have more links with Ethiopian languages than with Arabic. They are poorly documented, although they are of utmost historical importance, because they largely antedated the Arabic language in trade between the Mediterranean, Africa and India, which is of relevance for plant history.

Miller, Anthony G. & Morris, Miranda, 2004. Ethnoflora of the Soqotra archipelago. Edinburgh, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. XVI-759 p.

The first author is a botanist and the second one an ethnolinguist. The book covers about 825 plants, with their description, distribution, names and uses. The Soqotri people, numbering only 50,000 persons, has lived quite isolated for centuries in a traditional way. Documenting their knowledge was an urgent task in our changing world.

The book gives Soqotri plant names in two forms, the one in a precise phonetical script, the other in a simplified script. All the kinds of uses are documented.

The result is a fascinating and unique book, Very few areas in the world benefit from such a high standard of thorough ethnobotanical inventory.