A fascinating map of the most spoken languages in every US state besides English and Spanish

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/28/a-fascinating-map-of-the-most.html


The Nepalis in Nebraska. I had no idea.

I also noticed that Maryland is twice as French as the other French-labeled places.


I think one of those French arrows is pointing at DC


this map explains so much

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No surprise for Illinois, and that’s mostly due to Chicago. I’m not sure if it’s still the case now, but back in the Cold War days, Chicago had the largest Polish population of any city other than Warsaw. Solidarity flags were a common sight back in the 1980s.

I’m seeing much more Arabic in the Chicago area than I did when I was growing up.


Guess what is language #3 in Saskatchewan behind English and French?

Some good guesses:

  • Like it’s neighbours North Dakota and Montana, the ancestry of a plurality of Saskatchewanians are German
  • Ukrainian and Norwegian are also quite common, and Saskatchewan has the highest concentration of those ethnicities in North America so they have lots of language classes and cultural events.
  • Saskatchewan has the highest percentage native population of any province in Canada, by far. The plurality of those are Cree/Ojibway/Algonquin, although there are a good chunk of Sioux/Dakota and Dene/Athabaskan as well.

Nope, it’s Tagalog. Shows how quickly immigration from a place with a huge population like the Philippines can quickly swamp a place with a small population like Norway or pre-contact North America…


The Pennsylvania Dutch language is not Dutch at all.

It’s German- from Deutsch.

“ The Pennsylvania Dutch ( Pennsilfaanisch-Deitsche ), also referred to as the Pennsylvania Germans , are a cultural group formed by early German-speakingimmigrants to Pennsylvania and their descendants. This older usage of the word Dutch refers to the Germansettlers, known endonymically as Deutsch (in standard German) or Deitsch (in the principal dialect they spoke, Palatine German); it does not refer to people from the Netherlands. Most Pennsylvania Dutch emigrated in the 17th and 18th centuries to the Americas from within the Holy Roman Empire, which included areas that were later to become Germany and Switzerland and Austria. Over time, the various dialects spoken by these immigrants fused into a unique dialect of German known as Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania Dutch.”

Surprised me when I moved here.


Just a note RE Hawaii, Ilocano is a Filipino language, not native/indigenous language in Hawaii.


What strikes me most is the mention of “Chinese”, without any clarification as to which of the many different languages that could refer to. I presume it’s either Mandarin or Cantonese, but there are plenty of other dialects that fall under that catchall term.


I’ve never heard a single utterance of French in Maryland. Odd.


Surprised that German is so prevalent - in nine states!


It doesn’t say how prevalent. After you eliminate English and Spanish, it might just be a handful of households.

And of course, given the states in question, it might have more to do with honoring the fuehrer than actual ethnicity.


Don’t forget Navajo!

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The Nepalis in Nebraska. I had no idea.

I remember going to a Tibetan restaurant in Massachusetts that had yak on the menu. I asked the waiter where they got yak from, and he said someone farmed them in Nebraska. So possibly at least some of the Nepali speakers in Nebraska are yak farmers?

(The yak was delicious, incidentally).


You be careful out among them English.


The German may originate quite early

  1. the Germanna Colony invited/indentured by governor of Virginia
  2. the eruption of Tambora causing the Year Without a Summer
    and all the folks who later followed their cousins voluntarily
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I would have thought Russian would be more prevalent in Oregon, as there are a lot of folks from Russia and Ukraine here. Vietnamese must be a very Portland centered thing, and heavily concentrated, because Russian is more prevalent in southern Oregon (there’s a Russian orthodox church visible from I-5, for example, complete with gold and blue onion domes), and follows the I-5 corridor north to Eugene and Salem.

I live in the Atlanta 'burbs where there is a huge Korean population so that one did not surprise me. It’s not uncommon to see store signs mostly or entirely in Korean around here (I think the fire department did ask them to put the English name too to help them find the place in an emergency). There is a sizeable Vietnamese and Chinese population too which means there are several really good Asian grocery stores within a couple miles from my house. And anyone who’s spent any time in the Atlanta area knows about the good food down Buford Highway.


The Portuguese in coastal New England states is intriguing - I know that Portuguese sailors were prevalent in the whaling and fishing economies that operated out of New England ports like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard in the 18th and 19th centuries, but I wouldn’t have expected their descendants to still speak the language all these generations later. Maybe I’m on the wrong track and this actually has more to do with recent Brazilian immigrants? Interesting coincidence, in that case.

Similarly, the persistence of German in the Midwest and Mountain West - Germans were one of the largest immigrant groups to the US in the 19th century (a fact that we largely forgot due to anti-German sentiment in the 20th century) and were indeed often the early settlers of those areas. Again, though, are there really that many families still speaking German after all this time? Or is something else going on?


as a (northern) Nevadan, the Tagalog surprised me, but i’m sure like many things here it’s driven by the southern (Vegas) portion of the state.