The United States of America is home to a diverse population. Being the third-largest country in the world by area measuring 9.84 million square kilometers, and having an ever-increasing population of 329 million at the end of 2019, the linguistic plurality of the USA should come as no surprise.
When one reads ‘Most Spoken language in the USA’, you will not be wrong in thinking it is English. But did you know the USA is home to a population that speaks a cumulative number of languages that exceed 350?
Read on to learn more about the most spoken languages in the USA.
Number of Speakers: 231+ million
States with a high number of speakers: 50
English is the most spoken language in the USA, with over 231 million speakers actively practicing it. Being the most popular language, American English is also used in the various wings of the Government and for national dialogue while representing the country. However, it is not the official language of the USA as the country does not have one. Hawaii on the west coast is the only state in the USA to recognize another language along with English as its official language; Hawaiian Pidgin.
Number of Speakers: 40+ million
States with a high number of speakers: 46
Along with English, Spanish is the next most spoken language in the USA with as many as 46 states having speakers practicing the language. With over 37 million speakers, the proximity to Spanish speaking countries in Central America and South America is thought to contribute to the population of the Spanish speakers. The ten US states with the most Hispanic residents are Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Texas.
3. Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, other varieties)
Number of speakers: 2.9+ million
States with a high number of speakers: 5 (New York, Washington, Arkansas, Utah, and Missouri)
Chinese and the various varieties of it (Mandarin, Cantonese, Taishanese, Hokkien) are experiencing global growth as a spoken language due to the increasing economic prowess of China as a global economy. In the USA, the root of the Chinese language dates back to the early 18th century, when there was a significant mass migration from mainland China. With the Californian Gold Rush thought to have attracted the Chinese from mainland China, many have built their lives over decades in the USA. With several Chinese origin Americans living in the USA and Chinatowns popping up in major cities like New York and California, Chinese is one of the most spoken languages in the USA.
4. French and French Creole
Number of speakers: 2+ million
States with a high number of speakers: 6 (Louisiana, North Carolina, Maryland, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire)
French speakers are mostly found in the Southern Coast of the USA as well as the Northern tip of the East Coast. The French language is thought to have established a root in the USA when France was controlling parts of the US territory. States such as Florida and Delaware also have high populations of French speakers, which account for about 2 million spread across at least 4 other states. These also account for speakers of the different French creoles such as Haitian Creole, Cajun, etc.
Number of Speakers: 1.6+ million
States with a high number of speakers: 2 (California, Nevada)
Tagalog (now commonly known as Filipino) is a language with roots in the island nation of the Philippines. Another language that was brought to the land of the United States by a migrant population, Tagalog has speakers numbering over 1.6 million, with states of Nevada and California having the highest Tagalog speaking population.
Number of speakers: 1.4+ million
States with a high number of speakers: 6
Another language from South East Asia, the language was introduced in the USA post the Vietnam War. California in the Pacific Coast has the greatest number of Vietnamese speakers, with Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas having a sizeable population of Vietnamese speakers. The ethnic Hmong people also have speakers numbering about 30,000 who also speak Hmong along with Vietnamese. With over 1.4 million speakers, the Vietnamese language is the sixth most spoken language in the USA.
Number of Speakers: 1.2+ million
States with a high number of speakers: 3 (Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia)
Continuing with yet another language of Asian origin, Korean speakers are present in at least three states in the USA, with over 1.2 million speakers. Koreans in the USA make up the third-largest diaspora of Koreans outside of Korea, with China having the highest number of Korean expats. The arrival of Koreans to the USA was during the early 1900s, mainly to work in agricultural plantations, especially sugar and pineapple farming.
Number of Speakers: 1+ million
States with a high number of speakers: 9 (Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and South Carolina)
The German language is the most spoken language, apart from English and Spanish, according to the number of states where German speakers are located. Spread across nine states in the USA, they number close to a million speakers, who established their roots in US soil since the late 1600s. North Dakota has the highest number of the German-speaking population.
There you have it! We have listed the eight most spoken languages in the US. In addition to these eight languages, there are numerous other languages with fewer speakers than those mentioned above.
From American Sign Language to languages from the far east such as Japanese, to the subcontinent language of Hindi and languages of Europe such as Italian and Portuguese there are plenty to choose from. Why not give learning a new language online a try!