The knowledge and culture of palm sugar making of Phetchaburi people reflected in language

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สุนี คำนวลศิลป์


“Muang Phetch, City of Palmyra Palm” is province which is rich in local culture and wisdom, particularly related to the making of palm sugar. Historically, the province has been famous for Palmyra palm sugar, and this research paper presents the knowledge and culture of palm sugar making by people in Phetchaburi through words related to the sugar palm. Data were elicited by interview and observation of local palm sugar makers and those enjoying the benefits of locally grown Palmyra trees in Ban-Lard district. An ethnosemantic approach, namely folk taxonomy and componential analysis were applied for data analysis. The findings show that in the production of palm sugar, in order to collect fresh palm sugar juice (transparent sugar juice), the makers and especially the sugar palm reapers, require expertise and knowledge. They must be able to identify the gender of each palmyra palm and every part of its inflorescence. The great number of words used to describe activities related to sugar palm and names for each part of the palmyra palm connotes the specialized knowledge of palm sugar makers and the detailed and deliberate process of palm sugar production. In addition, techniques by which palm sugar sap, is harvested, inspection (evaluation) of sugar palm production processes, fresh palm sugar juice products and local people’s ways of thinking and classifying things related to the sugar palm are reflected in the meanings of words and names. It is worth noting that those locals who are familiar with the technical words and are able to clearly explain things about the sugar palm are usually people over 50 who have been making palm sugar for a long time. Unfortunately, the specialized knowledge and words that reflect the culture of palm sugar making are at risk of extinction in the next generation. This research serves to better understand the local knowledge and culture of palm sugar making and will contribute to the transfer and conservation of local knowledge and the unique palm sugar culture of Phetchaburi province and may even encourage others to take up this vocation themselves.

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