Work Description

Title: West African flora and fauna native terminologies Open Access Deposited
Attribute Value
  • Lexical elicitation combined with collection, photography, or inspection of specimens, or failing that based on images and information from manuals and other sources. Many flora insect specimens were determined by specialists in France and elsewhere.
  • This is the flora-fauna lexical material obtained in the course of more general lexical and grammatical fieldwork on languages of central-eastern Mali (Dogon, Songhay, Bangime, Bozo). The spreadsheets in this work, duplicated in xlsx and csv formants, present our flora-fauna lexicons as of early 2019 for many languages of central-eastern Mali, and certain languages of southwestern Burkina Faso. The Malian data is in two spreadsheets (flora, fauna), while the Burkina data is in separate spreadsheets for flora, birds, fish, insects, lizards and snakes, and mammals. Please begin with the “readme” document.
Contact information
Funding agency
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
ORSP grant number
  • various
Citations to related material
  • Moran, Steven & Forkel, Robert & Heath, Jeffrey (eds.) 2016. Dogon and Bangime Linguistics. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  • Christfried Naumann & Tom Güldemann & Steven Moran & Guillaume Segerer & Robert Forkel (eds.) 2015. Tsammalex: A lexical database on plants and animals. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
Resource type
Last modified
  • 01/21/2020
  • 03/04/2019
To Cite this Work:
Heath, J. (2019). West African flora and fauna native terminologies [Data set]. University of Michigan - Deep Blue.


Files (Count: 17; Size: 1.26 MB)

README FILE FOR “West African flora & fauna native terminology spreadsheets“

The spreadsheets in this work represent the February 2019 state of our flora-fauna lexicons for numerous languages of central-eastern Mali, and certain languages of southwestern Burkina Faso. The inventory of spreadsheets is this:



For Mali, there are two spreadsheets, one for flora and one for all fauna. For Burkina, there are separate spreadsheets on flora, mammals, birds, herpetofauna (reptiles etc.), insects (including arthropods and molluscs), and fish.

The Malian data are more authoritative than those for SW Burkina, both in terms of the quality of the linguistic transcriptions and in terms of the quality of the identifications. Heath did extended grammatical and lexical fieldwork on all of these languages, and did considerable on-location specimen collection and observation, except of course for locally extinct species such as antelopes. He believes that the species identifications especially for Mali are reliable for flora and most fauna based on taxonomy as of c. 2018. The biggest identification problems are with insect larvae and with large mammals that are no longer present.

As for the ongoing work in SW Burkina, the most reliable transcriptions are those for Jalkunan, on which Heath has completed fieldwork. The transcriptions for the other SW Burkina languages likely contain errors, especially regarding tones. Furthermore, some species identifications for Burkina languages may need correction. The SW Burkina materialis presented here “as is” in the hope that it may be useful at least as a starting point for others who work in that zone in the future.

It is likely that subsequent “editions” of these spreadsheets, especially for SW Burkina, will be archived in the future. If so, they will supersede the current (early 2019) versions.

Unless otherwise credited, all data are from Heath’s fieldwork. Some data were provided by other project members including Laura McPherson, Abbie Hantgan, the late Stefan Elders, and Kirill Prokhorov.

Scientific (Linnaean) taxonomies of both flora and fauna are subject to revision in the future. Fortunately, some major revisions (e.g. of “Acacia”) have already been made, but several other groups including “Hibiscus” are known to need major revisions. As of 2019, a good website that updates flora taxonomy and connects old binomials with current ones is:

Many jpg or similar images taken by us, ranging from flora (and a few fauna) in nature to herbarium species, will be archived in a future Deep Blue collection. In the meantime, many images (our own and from the web) of species, and linguistic data for Malian languages, have been integrated into the website https:\\, and also appear on our project website

The first ethnoentomological study produced by the project is J. Heath. 2018. Peoples of central Mali and their grasshoppers: The good, the bad, and the cute. Ethnoentomology (ISSN 2570-804X online) 2:35-51. link:

In each spreadsheet inside this work, there are columns for each language. The language roster is the following for the Mali spreadsheets.

Dogon language family
Toro Tegu
Ben Tey
Bankan Tey (village of Walo near Douentza)
Perge Tegu (village of Pergue, dialect of Jamsay)
Gourou (dialect of Jamsay, limited data)
Yorno-So (dialect of Toro So)
Ibi-So (dialect of Toro So, limited data)
Tomo Kan (2 versions, Segue village and Diangasagou village)
Tommo So (2 versions, data collected by Heath and data collected by Laura McPherson)
Dogul Dom
Tebul Ure
Yanda Dom
Mombo(2 versions, same dialect, by Heath and by Kirill Prokhorov)
Ampari (2 versions, same dialect, by Heath and by Kirill Prokhorov)
Bangime (language isolate)
up to 3 versions: Heath data; Stefan Elders data (SE); Abbie Hantgan data (AH)
montane Songhay (part of Songhay language family)
Humburi Senni of Hombori
TSK of Kikara
Bozo language family (part of Mande)
Jenaama (cliffs dialect, Namagué village

For Burkina the language columns are the following

Gur language family (including peripheral Gur languages)
Siamou (isolate)
Mande language family
Seenku (=Seeku, Sembla)

Preceding the language columns are the following columns in the Mali spreadsheets:

synonymy (scientific names formerly given to these species)
reference number (used internally in our project)
English gloss
French gloss

For the less finished SW Burkina spreadsheets, the corresponding columns are somewhat variable in heading and content format. The maximum set of columns is:

group (allows sorting into practical subcategories)
species (“insects” has separate genus and species columns)
English gloss (except “flora”)
French gloss (“birds” only)


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