US Census Bureau: 47 million Americans speak languages other than English

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Dec 4 16:44:21 UTC 2006

 Posted on Wed, Nov. 29, 2006

Our land of many languages
47 million Americans speak languages other than English, the Census Bureau

Cox News Service

WASHINGTON | In 14 million U.S. households, people speak a language other
than English, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Three million of those
homes are linguistically isolated, meaning all members 14 and older have
at least some difficulty with English, the report found. The Census Bureau
data, based on information from the 2000 Census, also showed that one in
five people over age 5 in the United States spoke a language other than
English that year and that 21 million spoke English less than very well.
The report included new details about foreign language speakers in each
state, including income and education levels.

Nationally, 47 million people speak a foreign language. Of those, 28
million speak Spanish, 10 million speak other Indo-European languages,
nearly 7 million speak Asian and Pacific Island languages, and 1.8 million
speak other languages, according to the Census. Steven Camarota, director
of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that
advocates lower levels of immigration, said the high number of Spanish
speakers nationwide presented an unprecedented dominance of one language
among foreign residents in the United States. As a result, it can become
easier to find a job and function in life without learning English, he

If one group becomes large enough, we create the critical mass necessary
to find employment, go shopping, buy a newspaper, listen to the radio or
watch TV and you can do it all in your foreign language, he said. There
you might be beginning to change fundamentally the dynamics of language
integration and assimilation.

Harry Pachon of the University of Southern California said that the large
number of foreign language speakers in the United States is a consequence
of recent immigration, not evidence that immigrants are refusing to learn
English. He said that language acquisition takes time and that immigrants
who come to the United States are eager to learn English. We're not
getting the complacent, self-satisfied immigrant, he said. Were getting
the people who are trying to improve their lives.


Total number of foreign language speakers by race and ethnicity in 2000,
over age 5:

Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 24.8 million

White: 22.6 million

Other race: 11.3 million

Asian: 7.5 million

Two or more races: 2.4 million

African-American: 2.2 million

American Indian or Alaska Native: 631,000

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: 152,000

| U.S. Census Bureau


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