Fast Facts About Languages of the USA

Did you know that the USA has no official language? Well over 350 languages are spoken within this country alone. Check out some surprising facts about the languages spoken in your own home state! Did any of these tidbits of information surprise you?

Alaska is the only state in the country in which Aleut, Yupik, and Inuit languages are among the most popular languages. About 28,000 Alaskans speak local indigenous languages!

After English and Spanish, Navajo is one of the most commonly spoken languages in Arizona, with over 80,000 speakers! It has the largest Navajo population of any state.

Surprisingly, Arkansas is the only state besides Hawaii where Austronesian languages fall in the top 3 most spoken. Did you know that Arkansas is home to the USA’s largest community of Marshallese nationals? In Hawaii, over 10% of the population speaks Hawaiian or other Austronesian languages at home.

California is home to more multilingual citizens than any other state: 44.5% of residents, in fact! English, Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog are among the most common languages here.

Over 3,600 speakers of Hindi and 3,200 speakers of Gujarati call Delaware home. Between 11 to 14% of immigrants to Delaware hail from India!

More than 30% of people in Florida speak a language other than English at home. The most popular is Spanish, with over 4.5 million speakers! Uniquely, the third most spoken language in the state is Haitian.

Besides English and Spanish, the next-most-spoken language in Illinois is Polish! More than 182,000 people in Illinois speak the language.

a group of people walking down a street next to tall buildings
Photo by Kristina Volgenau / Unsplash

One of the most spoken languages in Louisiana is French, with over 72,500 speakers! That includes unique dialects like Cajun French and Louisiana Creole French.

Over 89,000 people speak Somali in Minnesota! The Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area is home to the biggest Somali-American population in the country.

Arabic is one of the most spoken languages in Michigan, with over 164,000 speakers! The USA’s largest community of Lebanese-Americans calls Dearborn home.

Only about 6% of people in Maine speak a language other than English at home, but nearly half of them speak French! Maine is not far at all from Quebec.

Maryland is small but rich in diversity! Over 70,000 people in Maryland speak Chinese and over 51,000 speak Yoruba, Twi, Igbo, or other West African languages.

Massachusetts is home to the largest Portuguese-speaking population in the USA with over 206,000 speakers.

Only 6% of people in Missouri speak a language besides English. But way back in 1860, St. Louis was a multilingual hub that held the title of “Most Foreign-Born City in the USA!”

Montana is one of only a few states to rank Native American languages in its top 3 most spoken, most notably the Crow and Cheyenne languages!

Nevada is the only state to claim Tagalog as its most spoken language after English and Spanish, with 84,500 speakers! The state is home to a large Filipino community.

New Jersey is one of the most multilingual states in the country. It’s home to 120,000 speakers of Chinese, 85,000 Hindi speakers, and 82,000 Gujarati speakers!

Over 1/3 of New Mexicans speak a language besides English at home. The vast majority (525,990 of 672,260 multilingual residents) speak Spanish, followed by Navajo!

lighted cable bridge near high-rise buildings
Photo by Matteo Catanese / Unsplash

New York is home to the USA’s largest populations of Yiddish and Russian speakers! But the most spoken language after English and Spanish is Chinese—with an impressive 597,300 speakers.

German is among the most spoken languages in North Dakota. Over 30% of residents have German ancestry, although many descend from “Volga Germans” from Russia.

25 indigenous languages are spoken in Oklahoma, second only to California! The most common are Cherokee and Choctaw. The state is also home to 21,500 Vietnamese speakers.

Portland is Oregon’s most multilingual city, home to many speakers of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russian. The city is also well-known for its language immersion programs in public schools.

Pennsylvania Dutch is a misnomer. Not only is it a form of German, not Dutch, it’s also a very popular language in Ohio with over 62,700 speakers! Although Pennsylvania is home to the largest Pennsylvania Dutch community in the USA (73,500 speakers), the state has even more Chinese language speakers: over 90,000!

South Dakota was the first state to declare official indigenous languages: the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota dialects spoken by the Sioux people.

After English and Spanish, Rhode Island’s most spoken language is Portuguese! Portuguese-Americans make up 10% of the state’s population, the highest of any state!

After English and Spanish, the most popular languages in Tennessee is Arabic (25,800 speakers). The USA’s largest community of Kurdish people is in Southern Nashville.

Nearly 36% of Texans speak a language besides English at home—mostly Spanish! Many Tejano families living here today go back to when Texas was still part of Mexico.

brown rock formation
Photo by Gautier Salles / Unsplash

The most common language in Utah after English and Spanish is Chinese. In the 1860s, many Chinese immigrants arrived as workers on the transcontinental railroad!

After English, the most spoken language in Vermont is French! Vermont shares a 90 mile border with Quebec. “Vermont” is also French for “Green mountain.”

Over 66,000 people in Virginia speak Chinese and 43,800 speak Korean. Fairfax County’s Asian-American community makes up more than 20% of the population!

Over 127,600 people in Washington state speak Chinese! Seattle has been home to a large Chinese-American community since its earliest days in the 1850s.

Wisconsin is the only state in which Hmong is the most common language after English and Spanish. Nearly 39,000 Wisconsinites speak the language!

West Virginia sits at the very bottom of the list of the most multilingual states, with only 2.6% of people speaking a language besides English.

After English and Spanish, the most spoken language in Wyoming fall under the umbrella of “Native Languages of North America,” including Shoshone and Arapaho.

Did any of these facts defy your expectations? Do you or anyone you know speak any of these languages? We’d love to hear about it!

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