Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Sat Dec 16 20:32:23 EST 2017

>From *Quartz*

The US census is finally counting how many people speak Tamil, Punjabi,
Telugu, and Bengali
Varathan & Dan Kopf December 10, 2017

*As of last week, the US Census Bureau is taking stock of just how many
people in the US speak Tamil—along with Punjabi, Telugu, and Bengali.*

*Historically, the way the US census tracked South Asians was messy and
often inaccurate—not tracking them at all or confusing them for white.* But
their ranks in the US have been growing.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, was born to parents
from Punjab, India. The CEOs of Adobe (Shantanu Narayen) and Microsoft
(Satya Nadella) are both from Hyderabad, where Telugu is the primary
language. Comedian/actor Aziz Ansari’s parents speak Tamil, as does Ansari,
to a degree, per the travel log of his trip to India.

The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, grew up in Chennai, where Tamil is the
main language. Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu, which literally means
“The Land of Tamils.” According to the 2001 Indian census, close to 90% of
people living in Tamil Nadu speak it fluently. (It also is the language
Ansari’s parents use in the touching and appropriately titled episode
“Parents,” from his Netflix series Master of None.)

Not including English, Bengali is the most-spoken language in India after
Hindi, and is the main language of Bangladesh. Telugu and Tamil are among
the most popular languages in south India. Globally, Tamil is spoken by
over 70 million people, though in the US, only 250,000 or so people speak
it. While Punjabi is most popular in Pakistan, globally, it’s almost as
widely spoken as Italian (paywall).

Gujarati and Bengali, to say nothing of other Asian languages like Chinese
and Korean, are more popular than Tamil in the US—though no Indian
language, aside from Hindi, makes it into the top 10 most popular spoken
languages (even discounting Spanish and English).

If you currently live in the US and don’t speak these newly tracked
languages, it’s likely you know either many people who do, or none at all.
Most Telugu and Tamil speakers in the US are concentrated in California,
followed closely by Texas and New Jersey. Almost half (48%) of Bengali
speakers in the US are in California, and more than a third of
Punjabi-fluent Americans reside in New York.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list