Friday, May 16, 2014

Does Anybody Here Speak English?

I stumbled on an interesting article the other day - Tagalog in California, Cherokee in Arkansas: What Language Does Your State Speak? You don't need to be a linguist to find it fascinating.

Here's a map from the article that shows the language other than English that is most often spoken in each state:

It probably comes as no surprise that Spanish is the most commonly spoken language other than English virtually everywhere in the country. There are only a few exceptions: French in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Louisiana; German in North Dakota; Yupik in Alaska; and Tagalog in Hawaii. But what's really interesting is how the map looks if you take Spanish out of the picture. This map shows the most commonly spoken language in each state other than English and Spanish:

Amazingly enough, German makes a very strong showing all across the midwest. My home state of Pennsylvania shows Italian, which I find interesting because when I was growing up there (not long after William Penn set it up, ha, ha), it seemed as if Eastern Europeans (Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks, Ukrainians, etc) were in the majority, at least in Pittsburgh and the coal country of central Pennsylvania. The prevalence of French in Louisiana and upper New England isn't particularly surprising, although Arabic in Michigan, Hmong in Wisconsin, and Vietnamese in Nebraska and Oklahoma are - at least to me.

What does it all mean? That we are and continue to be a nation of immigrants, legal or otherwise. And that it's not at all a bad idea to learn a foreign language ... even here at home.

Ich wuensche Euch alle einen guten Tag. Morgen gibt's Cartoon Samstag ... kommt zurueck und lacht mit!



eViL pOp TaRt said...

I agree, it's a good idea to learn another language besides English. Unfortunately, most schools (including universities) offer a limited selection of possibilities.

But there's the practical side: should you learn the third most common language, or the second most common one?

Duckbutt said...

French, German, or Russian are the most commonly-available languages for study. It's hard to find Mandarin or Japanese classes in many parts of the country, especially the South.

Grand Crapaud said...

I wonder what the language map of second- and third-generation families of immigrants would look like.

Pep said...

Well, if you had ventured over to my neck of the woods, you would have seen that in my little slice of the 'burgh, Italian was most prevalent. Three houses across the street from my parents were all filled with paisanos. It was a culinary heaven for me and I think that was the biggest reason I am the cook I am today.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

This was fascinating.
I get it from my family perspective at least....Dad only child of 8 born in US - NJ....moved to PA. Guess what they all speak - Italian?

Mike said...

I saw that second map and saved it for a post. Nevermind.