Language Concentration in USA

 

 

Languages spoken at home are not evenly distributed throughout the nation. Some areas have high percentages of speakers of non-English languages, while others have lower levels.

The percentage of people who spoke a language other than English at home varied substantially across states; just 2 percent of West Virginians 5 years old and over reported speaking a language other than English at home, while 43 percent of people in California reported the same. Moreover, Figure 3 shows that relatively high levels of other language speakers were common in the Southwest and in the larger immigrant gateway states of the East, such as New York, New Jersey, and Florida. With the exception of Illinois, relatively lower levels of foreign-language speakers prevail in most of the Midwest and in the South.

Quite often, concentrations of specific language groups were found in certain areas of the country. In the short term, the factors creating these concentrations include points of entry into the United States and family connections facilitating chain migration (Palloni, et al. 2003). In the longer term, internal migration streams, employment opportunities, and other family situations help to facilitate the diffusion of language groups within the country.

These maps show the percentage of people 5 years old and over in each state who spoke Spanish, French, German, Slavic languages, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog.

For Spanish speakers, three states (Texas, California, and New Mexico) were in the highest interval, but the southwest corridor of the United States also had a sizable percentage of the population speaking Spanish (see Figure 5a). Louisiana and Maine had the highest percentage of French speakers, but Florida and many states in the Northeast had a substantial percentage as well. The presence of French Creole speakers in Louisiana and of Haitian Creole speakers in Florida contributed to the higher levels of French speakers in these states.

German speakers spanning the Canadian border of the United States, with the highest percentages in the Dakotas. Pennsylvania had a sizable number of speakers of Pennsylvania Dutch, which is a West Germanic language. Indiana, with a relatively large number of people of German ancestry, also had a high percentage of German speakers. Slavic languages, which include Russian, Polish, and Serbo-Croatian, had the highest percentage of speakers in Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. A substantial level of Slavic speakers also was found n the West Coast states.