from the PALI edition of the Marshallese-English Dictionary
6. Flora, Fauna, and Stars
The authors have attempted to be as inclusive as possible with respect to the names of plants and animals of the Marshalls, and to be as accurate as possible with respect to their scientific identification. In carrying out both these aims they have had the kind assistance of a number of specialists. Of most help with respect to plant names has been Professor Benjamin C. Stone of the Department of Botany at the University of Malaya, who began his fieldwork with the plants of the islands, especially pandanus, in 1955, as a graduate student at the University of Hawai‘i, when he was soon given the affectionate title "Ḷabōb", Mr. Pandanus, by the people with whom he worked. Most of the plant identifications are taken from a manuscript "A Short Dictionary of Marshallese Plant Names" provided by Professor Stone while he was at the University of Guam (then the College of Guam) in 1964. In it he indicates that the botanical names were taken from a manuscript prepared by Dr. Harold St. John of the University of Hawai‘i, "Checklist of Marshallese Plants," a compilation from the literature and a record of his original exploration. Professor Stone also notes that "as in every language, there are cases where the same name applies to more than one species of plant; further, there are numbers of species which have received no precise Marshallese name. These last for the most part are weeds, introduced plants, or inconspicuous plants, especially the lower orders—fungi, lichens, etc."
The other main source for plant names and plant identifications is the handbook compiled by teachers and students at the Marshall Islands Intermediate School (Takeuchi 1959). The sources for this work in turn included Anderson (1950), Neal (1948), Taylor (1950), and Fosberg (1955).
Concerning pandanus, Professor Stone (personal communication) has the following to say:
Identification of land vertebrates was done with the help of Marshall (1950). Birds were identified chiefly by A. Binion Amerson, Jr., research biologist with the Pacific Ocean Biological Survey Program of the Smithsonian Institution in 1968. Dr. Amerson brought to Hawai‘i various frozen and mounted specimens from the northern atolls and worked with Bender and various Marshallese persons in Hawai‘i at that time to correlate the scientific names with the Marshallese names.
Identification of fish was accomplished primarily by DeBrum, using illustrated volumes available in the Pacific Collection of the University of Hawai‘i Library. Other fish identifications were taken primarily from Goo and Banner (1963). Shells were identified primarily by Mr. Kanchi Ibbino of Arno Atoll while he was in Hawai‘i in 1973, using Kira (1962) and Habe (1964).
Star and constellation identifications are based almost entirely on Erdland (1910), even though they are at variance with some modern-day identifications made by amateur astronomers. Erdland had the assistance of several of the most knowledgeable navigators of four generations ago, and his identifications are internally consistent. However, it should be noted that even then Erdland found differences among the experts he consulted.
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