Wednesday, November 26, 2014

You Don't Say

America is an English-speaking country, but we've got tens of millions who speak Spanish as well.  The interesting question is what's the third-most popular tongue.

Here's a map that shows the most common language in each state after English and Spanish, and there are some surprises.

A few I could guess pretty easily.  Polish in Illinois (I've lived in Chicago and seen all the Polish delis), Italian in New Jersey, Portuguese in Massachusetts, even Arabic in Michigan doesn't surprise me.

And while I knew French would be the language in Louisiana, and I'm not shocked it also shows up in the northeastern states bordering Quebec, I wouldn't have guessed it's also spoken so widely in West Virginia, the Carolinas, Alabama, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut.  (And Florida has French Creole.)

And what's Russian doing in Oregon?

Then there are the surprising pockets of Asian languages.  Vietnamese in Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Washington?  Tagalog in California, Nevada and Hawaii? Korean in Virginia and Georgia? Hmong in Minnesota?

There are also a few native tongues still playing big.  Navajo in Arizona and New Mexico, Yupik in Alaska, and Dakota in South (but not North) Dakota.

And the winner with the most states--German, which dominates the middle of our nation.  

PS  The page linked above starts with this sentence.

Despite growing efforts to make English the official language of the U.S., America's linguistic landscape is only becoming more multifaceted and diverse every year.

1) What evidence do they have the effort is growing?  It's been around for quite a while. Seems to me the effort has been getting smaller for some time.

2) Multifaceted and diverse?  Are they getting paid by the syllable?

3)  That there's a movement to make English official is a tangential point at best.  Why start with an unnecessarily argumentative introduction?

4)  They seem to think it's odd that the languages people speak grow more diverse while there's an effort to make English the official language.  Sounds perfectly logical to me.


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I'm amazed that I don't see any State with Spanish as the second most common languge. In fact, I find it so surprising that I wonder how rigorous the measurement methodology was. Can I at least assume Spanish is the second, if not first, most cokmmon language in Puerto Rico?

7:45 AM, November 26, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you should rethink that. If you wonder how many states might have Spanish as the first language, okay, but different question.

Spanish is explicitly excluded from the graph. You're looking at third most spoken.

9:11 AM, November 26, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I surprised Klingon didn't show up

doom ghom wIje'meH

Ha' yu'egh

12:39 PM, November 26, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Klingon is being replaced by Dothraki and High Valyrian.

1:03 PM, November 26, 2014  

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