May 20th, 2014
04:55 PM ET

America's linguistic melting pot

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Here at GPS, we love deep data dives. We also revel in the fact that America continues to be the melting pot that it has always been. So we were interested to see a piece on Slate.com last week analyzing the most common languages spoken in each state using U.S. census data.

This first map is predictable – other than English, Spanish is the most spoken language in almost all U.S. states. But watch what happens when you remove Spanish from the equation. Now there is the melting pot.

In Michigan, Arabic clocks in as the third most commonly spoken language.

In Minnesota, it's Hmong.

In Oregon, it's Russian.

It's Vietnamese in four states – Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Washington.

It's a Filipino language called Tagalog in Hawaii, California, and Nevada.

In four states, its Native American languages.

It's French in 11 states.

And in 16 states, it's German. If you're surprised at that number, according to recent census measures of countries of ancestry, people of German heritage outnumber all other groups in the United States – even Irish! Remember, until World War I, by some accounts, German was the second most widely spoken language in all of the United States. And that tradition seems to linger.

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Topics: GPS Show • Immigration • Last Look • United States

soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Kit Jacobsen

    Why was Alaska upside down?

    May 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Reply
    • ✠ RZ ✠

      Maybe it wouldn't fit well in the picture if it were on the top left corner.

      May 21, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Reply
    • rupert

      @Kit. So that you can sit on the tip and have it go up your fat asss?

      May 22, 2014 at 11:02 pm | Reply
  2. Marsha

    I don't know. Why?

    May 21, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Reply
  3. oogenhand

    Reblogged this on oogenhand and commented:
    Fareed, cxu vi volas lerni Esperanton? Cxu cxiuj lernus Esperanton?

    May 21, 2014 at 11:54 pm | Reply
  4. Annalyssa Gypsy Murphy

    Hmong is pronounced with a silent "H", one would think the newscaster would have asked HOW words is in unfamiliar with are pronounced, but then, IF the "melting pot myth" WERE true, he would KNOW now wouldn't he!? We are NOT melting pot, we assimilate all new cultures and learn little outside ourselves! Ideally we WOULD be a melting pot but then we would celebrate new holidays as new cultures move here, we would have school lunches with tostones and falafel and so on!

    May 22, 2014 at 1:13 am | Reply
  5. Bombadil

    Only in America is it considered 'weird' that more than one language is spoken.

    May 22, 2014 at 4:18 am | Reply
  6. Bastille

    Filipino language is no longer called Tagalog. The more accurate term is 'Filipino.'

    May 22, 2014 at 4:23 am | Reply
    • Sam

      What? There's more than just Tagalog in the Philippines. You can't lump them all together and call it Filipino.

      September 9, 2014 at 1:00 pm | Reply
  7. George patton

    Speaking of the Germans once again, no one on this web page or anywhere else can deny the simple fact that if they chose to, they could have developed the atom bomb before we did since they came up with the atom smasher as early as 1938, some two and a half years ahead of us. Fortunately, they decided not to pursue this but instead decided to use their conventional forces to conquer Europe.

    May 22, 2014 at 10:59 am | Reply
  8. lipingblog

    i think the author writes in a plain language. Instead of describing linguistics in an academic way, keep sentences short and readable enable me to understand what the author is talking about. Besides, by uploading a video, I feel engaged fully and contextually.

    May 23, 2014 at 3:57 am | Reply
  9. Wayne Booth

    The only Indigenous language that is left on that map is "Dakota" and they got the language name wrong. It is Lakota.
    http://www.waynemarci.com/indiancountry

    May 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Reply
  10. ML/NJ

    I spent eight days in Berlin a couple of months ago. It was my first time there. As I walked around (And I walked a LOT!) I overheard many conversations. Except for obvious tourists, they were ALL in German*. And I never had to look behind me to see if I might be in some danger.

    *For anyone who might say "So what.," I would point out that only about half of the conversations one overhears in NYC are in English.

    May 29, 2014 at 6:29 pm | Reply
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