Hindi most popular Indian language in US

Wednesday 06th November 2019 06:08 EST

Washington: Hindi continues to be the most widely spoken Indian language in the US, followed by Gujarati and Telugu. Hindi was spoken by 874,000 people in the US as of July 1, 2018, a slight increase of 1.3% from 863,000 in 2017. Since 2010, the numbers have increased by 265,000 (43.5%).

However, in terms of percentage increase, the number of Telugu-speaking individuals far outstripped speakers of other Indian languages in the US, rising 79.5% between 2010 and 2018. The American Community Survey (ACS) data for 2018 released by the US Census Bureau shows that 67.3 million residents in the US, aged over five (which includes native-born, legal and illegal immigrants) speak a language other than English at home. Around 21.9% of US residents speak a foreign language at home - the percentage is only a tad higher than the 21.8% reflected in the 2017 data. The survey covers over 2 million households.

At 375,000, the Bengali speaking US-based population has shown a rise of nearly 68% over the same eight-year period. This is followed by those who speak Tamil, showing an increase of 67.5% to stand at 309,000 as of July 1, 2018. It should be noted that individuals from countries other than India too speak Bengali (predominately Bangladesh). Tamil is also spoken in countries such as Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia. Immigration experts say the spike in the Bengali-speaking population may also be representative of a larger inflow to the US from Bangladesh.

No of people who speak Gujarati dips

Surprisingly, the numbers of those speaking Gujarati and Telugu dipped slightly between 2017 and 2018. Those speaking Gujarati stood at 419,000, a decline of 3.5% over the previous year. And there were 400,000 Telugu speakers as of July 1, 2018, as against a slightly higher figure of 415,000 in the previous year (a decline of 3.7%). If figures of 2010 are compared with those of 2018, number of Telugu speakers increased from 223,000 to 400,000, a rise of 79.5%. This is not surprising as a fair share of technology sector employees, are said to hail from Andhra and Telangana.

The US Census Board does not provide a linguistic cum country-wise breakup. As a dominant percentage of Urdu and Punjabi speaking populace in US is anecdotally said to hail primarily from Pakistan. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a US-based thinktank, has also released a report, based on the census data. According to CIS, the number of those speaking a language other than English at home, has more than doubled since 1990 and almost tripled since 1980.

It points out that in America’s five largest cities, just under half (48%) of residents now speak a language other than English at home. To provide a global perspective, as per the CIS report, the largest numerical increase in those who speak a language other than English at home, between 2010 and 2018, was among speakers of Spanish (up by 4.5 million), Chinese (up 663,000) and Arabic (up by 394,000). The Hindi-speaking population with a numeric growth of 265,000, occupied fifth position.

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