Hindi with 8.74 lakh speakers is most popular Indian language in US
Hindi continues to be the most widely spoken Indian language in the US, followed by Gujarati, and Telugu.
In terms of absolute numbers, Hindi was the most widely spoken Indian language in the US with 8.74 lakh speakers as of July 1, 2018, reflecting a slight increase of 1.3% over the 2017 figures. Over an eight-year period, since 2010, the numbers have increased by 2.65 lakh, a rise of 43.5%.
However, in terms of percentage increase, the number of Telugu-speaking individuals far outstripped speakers of other Indian languages in the US, rising 79.5% between 2010 and 2018.
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The American Community Survey (ACS) data for 2018 (it measures the US population as of July 1, 2018), recently released by the US Census Bureau shows that 67.3 million residents in the US, aged over five (which includes native-born, legal and illegal immigrants) speak a language other than English at home.As a share of population, 21.9% of US residents speak a foreign language at home — the percentage is only a tad higher than the 21.8% reflected in the data of 2017. The ACS survey is the largest undertaken by the US government each year and covers over 2 million households.
The Bengali-speaking US-based population at 3.75 lakh has shown a rise by nearly 68% over the same eight-year period. This is followed by those who speak Tamil, showing a rise by 67.5% to stand at 3.08 lakh as of July 1, 2018.
However, it should be noted that individuals from countries other than India also speak Bengali (predominately Bangladesh). Tamil is spoken in countries such as Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia. Immigration experts say the spike in the Bengali-speaking population may also be representative of a larger inflow to the US from Bangladesh.
Surprisingly, the numbers of those speaking Gujarati and Telugu has dipped slightly between 2017 and 2018. Those speaking Gujarati stood at 4.19 lakh, a decline of 3.5% over the previous year. And there were 4 lakh Telugu speakers as of July 1, 2018, as against a slightly higher figure of 4.15 lakh in the previous year (a decline of 3.7%).
If figures of 2010 are compared with those of 2018, the number of Telugu speakers increased from 2.23 lakh to 4 lakh, a rise of 79.5%. This is not surprising as a fair share of technology sector employees, are said to hail from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The US Census Board does not provide a linguistic cum country-wise breakup. As a dominant percentage of Urdu and Punjabi speaking populace in the US is anecdotally said to hail primarily from Pakistan, TOI has ignored these statistics in its analysis.
The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a US-based think-tank, has released a report, based on the census data. According to the CIS, the number of those speaking a language other than English at home, has more than doubled since 1990 and almost tripled since 1980.
It points out that in America’s five largest cities, just under half (48%) of residents now speak a language other than English at home. In New York, it is 49%; in Los Angeles it is 59%; in Chicago it is 36% and in Houston and Phoenix it is 59% and 38%, respectively.
To provide a global perspective, as per the CIS report, the largest numerical increase in those who speak a language other than English at home, between 2010 and 2018, was among speakers of Spanish (up by 4.5 million), Chinese (up 6.63 lakh) and Arabic (up by 3.94 lakh). The Hindi-speaking population with a numeric growth of 2.65 lakh, occupied fifth position.
CIS has consistently pointed out that migrants need to have knowledge of English so as to assimilate better. Its report points out that of those who speak a foreign language at home, 25.6 million (or 38%) told the census bureau that they speak it ‘less than very well’. In its survey, the census bureau seeks information about English proficiency, if the respondent speaks another language at home.
However, English does not pose a challenge for majority of those speaking Indian languages. For example, more than 80% of the population speaking Hindi, Telugu and Tamil at home said they spoke English ‘very well’.
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Source :- Times of India