Your Tax $$ Wasted on Dictionary for a Language Nobody Can Read

The federal government is squandering $5,300 of your money hard-earned tax money so a college professor can compile a dictionary of the language spoken by 200 Bella Coola Indians in Canada.

The money being wasted is a grant by the tax-supported National Science Foundation to Dr. Philip W. Davis, associate professor of anthropology at Rice University in Houston, Tex.

Dr. Davis says he'll use the $5,300 to tape-record interviews with the Canadian Indians and then compile a dictionary [a collection of texts, PWD] of the Bella Coola language.

"This language is going to be extinct in 30 years or so [from 1978, PWD] Dr. Davis said. "So what it (the project) does is preserve a portion of that literature."

Dr. Davis said Bella Coola is an oral language only -- meaning that even the Indians who speak the language wouldn't be able to read Bella Coola words on paper.

Asked how the taxpayers -- who are shelling out for this project -- will benefit from it, Dr. Davis said:

"This project is mainly for historical and for linguistic purposes. In general it is probably humanistic in that all languages are going to be of interest -- American Indian languages in particular, because most of them are going to be extinct in this century.

"If this kind of work isn't done, these things will become lost, without a trace."

If you find that reason for spending $5,300 a little confusing, don't feel bad - so do we!


[I suppose that I am grateful that the reporter did not know about the $45,000 in tax dollars from the NSF that I had spent on Bella Coola in the four years preceding his call, PWD.]