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More Americans Speak Arabic at Home Than Italian or Polish

21 percent of Americans speak another language at home

( David H. Wells/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

In the United States, 21 percent of people speak a language other than English at home. That's an increase of three percent since 2000, says the Pew Chairitable Trust’s Stateline, which took a look at data from the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey. Pew also looked at which languages people were speaking and found that Italian and Polish—the languages of 20th century immigrants—had fallen from the top ten secondary languages, replaced by French Creole and Arabic. 

Spanish is top on the list with over 38 million speakers; the next most spoken language, Chinese, has a relatively puny 3,029,042 speakers. 

Though there has been an increase in people speaking second languages, English is likely to remain dominant, Stateline writes:

Even as more Americans speak foreign languages at home, there is little risk that any one of them will crowd out English. History has shown that eventually, the American “melting pot” consumes them all, leading some linguists to call the U.S. a “cemetery of languages.” Most of the children and grandchildren of immigrants who spoke Yiddish, German or Italian have long since abandoned those languages in daily discourse.

Italian and Polish weren’t the only European languages that are in decline. Though they managed to stay on the top ten list, since 2000, the French and German speakers have declined by 24 percent and 29 percent, respectively.  

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