Slate: Asian languages are 3rd most common spoken languages in certain states

Credit: Ben Blatt / Slate
Credit: Ben Blatt / Slate

I stumbled across this super-cool map infographic from Ben Blatt over at Slate this morning. Blatt generated a dataset asking what the most common non-English, non-Spanish spoken languages were in each state. He found several Asian American languages popped up as basically the third most common spoken language in each state.

Asian Americans are the fastest growing immigrant minority group in this country, and studies show that as many as half of Asian American children grow up fluently bilingual.

Credit: Ben Blatt / Slate
Credit: Ben Blatt / Slate

The map is interesting but not altogether surprising: it largely reflects the ethnic concentrations of the Asian American population.

In New York, the state is home to 620,000 Chinese Americans (half a million of whom live in New York City alone), just under half of the state’s total Asian American population; no surprise that Chinese is the third most common spoken language.

California and Nevada both have large Filipino American populations — 1.5 million California Asian Americans are ethnically Filipino, for example — explaining the region’s predominance of Tagalog. Similarly, the South is home to thousands of Vietnamese Americans which is why Vietnamese is most common there.

That Hmong is the third most common spoken language in Minnesota is also not altogether surprising considering the state’s large Hmong American population.

I was a little surprised — although perhaps naively so — to find that Tagalog, not native Hawaiian, is the third most common language in Hawaii. Filipino Americans are the second largest — behind Japanese American — Asian ethnic group in Hawaii, but the native Hawaiian population isn’t much smaller.  I was similarly surprised to find Korean to be the third most common spoken language in Georgia, considering that state’s Asian population is both small and Koreans are not the largest Asian ethnicity in the state.

Anyways, I thought this map was pretty cool, and offered some insight into how Asian Americans are distributed across the U.S.; it also provided some food for thought about how various Asian Americans might — or might not — be preserving Asian bilingualism with subsequent generations.

Update: Our friends over at AAPI Voices have pointed out this infographic is actually all kinds of wrong. Here’s the updated infographic, showing Asian languages are more prevalent than Slate thinks, as well as a link to the full article which contains other analyses!


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