Recent news has brought to light that the UK will now stop the census –a survey like document which records the information of the members of any given population. The first census in the US was taken in 1890, since then it has provided the nation with a number of questions regarding the languages that they speak. However many participants simply did not completely understand what exactly it was asking, this was mainly due to their foreign origins and their lack of fluency in English. Therefore this lead the census to include questions regarding the languages of the US population.
Language questions are still asked to this very day on the survey and results are collated. The Census Bureau released a report from the 2011 survey which revealed some interesting facts about the languages in the US.
-Over 300 languages are spoken in the U.S. For purposes of analysis they are categorized into 39 groups (e.g., Slavic languages besides Russian, Polish, and Serbo-Croatian are under “Other Slavic Languages.” Indian languages besides Hindi, Gujarati, and Urdu are under “Other Indic Languages.”)
-Of the population 5 years and older, 21% speak another language at home; 62% of which speak Spanish.
-From 2005 to 2011 the percentage of Spanish speakers increased.
-Even though Spanish has seen the biggest increase in numbers from people who speak it, Vietnamese has had the biggest percentage increase. There are now almost 7 times the number of Vietnamese speakers there were in 1980.
-There were other large increases over the same period for Russian, Persian, Chinese, Korean, and Tagalog.
-Within the same time frame the number of Italian, Yiddish, Polish, German, and Greek speakers decreased.
-The last 10 years saw the number of Hindi speakers more than double.
-The metro area with the highest percentage speaking another language is Laredo, Texas.
-In metro areas with high numbers of speakers of other languages, Spanish is usually the biggest non-English language.
-The state with the lowest percentage of those who speak another language is West Virginia with 2% and the highest is California with 44%.
-A full breakdown by individual language (rather than by the 39 categories) is available for the 2006-2008 survey period. It estimates that there are 173 speakers of Gilbertese, 707 speakers of Luxembourgian, and 1649 speakers of Basque.
-There are an estimated 117,547 speakers of Pennsylvania Dutch.