Map porn aficionados will go gaga over the latest spread published by the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2011 Language Mapper enables language data addicts to drill down on U.S. languages spoken in nitty-gritty detail. The online map displays the range of languages spoken in homes across the nation along with rates of English proficiency and the growing number of speakers of other languages here in the USA.
“This map makes it easy for anyone to plan language services in their community,” said Nancy Potok, the Census Bureau’s acting director. “Businesses can tailor communications to meet their customers’ needs. Emergency responders can use it to be sure they communicate with people who need help. Schools and libraries can offer courses to improve English proficiency and offer materials written in other languages.”
Fifteen languages are featured: Spanish, French, French Creole, Italian, Portuguese, German, Russian, Polish, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Arabic. The results are crazy granular with 10 speakers per dot on the map at maximum magnification. Fortunately, to protect the privacy of these non-English speakers, the dots are placed in a random location within the census tracts to protect the confidentiality of non-English speakers. In 1942, the U.S. Census provided the same level of detail to aid the U.S. War Department’s internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
In addition to pinpointing target languages in Hometown USA, the survey notes some general language trends. The report reveals that more than half (58 percent) of U.S. residents 5 and older who speak a language other than English at home also speak English “very well.” Absolute numbers grew, with those speaking a language other than English at home going from 17.9 percent in 2000 to 20.8 percent in 2011. Of those 60 million people, almost two-thirds spoke Spanish.
More fun language facts from the report:
- In addition to English and Spanish, there were six languages in 2011 spoken at home by at least 1 million people: Chinese (2.9 million), Tagalog (1.6 million), Vietnamese (1.4 million), French (1.3 million), German (1.1 million) and Korean (1.1 million).
- The prevalence of people speaking non-English languages at home varied widely across states, from 44 percent of the population in California to 2 percent in West Virginia.
- Laredo, Texas, led all metro areas with 92 percent of residents age 5 and older speaking a language other than English at home.
- Metro and micro areas in the West, South and Northeast tended to have higher levels of people speaking non-English languages at home. Those in the Midwest tended to have lower levels, with the exception of Illinois.
- Of Spanish speakers, 45 percent of foreign-born naturalized citizens spoke English “very well” compared with 23 percent of foreign-born noncitizens. Those who were native-born, had at least a bachelor’s degree or were not in poverty were more likely to speak English “very well.”
- Eighty percent or more of French and German speakers spoke English “very well.” In contrast, less than 50 percent of those who spoke Korean, Chinese or Vietnamese spoke English “very well”. The rate for Spanish speakers was 56 percent.