The Most Common Spoken Household Languages
We typically operate under the assumption that most Americans speak either English or Spanish. Though this is true in the broadest sense, the U.S. is a culturally diverse country, home to a plethora of languages.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) annually asks more than 1 million Americans questions about their lives, families, and backgrounds. One question asks respondents what language they mainly speak in their homes.
Migration Policy has used this data (while excluding English and Spanish) to leave us with the next-most-frequently spoken languages at home in each state.
Non-English Languages in the U.S.
In 2019, approximately 78% (241 million) of all 308.8 million people ages five and older reported speaking only English at home regardless of their nativity. The remaining 22% (67.8 million) reported speaking a language other than English at home.
Based on this data, Mandarin and Cantonese were the most common non-English, non-Spanish languages spoken in the U.S., with more than 3.4 million speakers across the country.
Here is a list of the most common languages spoken at home in the U.S., outside of English:
|Language||Population Estimate||Share of Foreign Language Speakers|
|Cantonese and Mandarin||3,495,000||5.2%|
|French and Louisiana French||1,172,000||1.7%|
|West African Languages||589,000||0.9%|
|West Germanic Languages||560,000||0.8%|
Tagalog is the second most commonly spoken language in American households (after English/Spanish) with 1.7 million speakers, even though it only reaches top spot in Nevada. Unsurprisingly, Louisiana and states bordering eastern Canada have a healthy number of French speakers.
Further analysis of these common languages reveals a fascinating story. Here’s a breakdown of the top 5 most commonly spoken second languages (excluding English and Spanish), and the states where they’re spoken.
1. Cantonese and Mandarin
Estimated number of speakers nationally: 3,495,000
Number of states where it’s the most common: 17
States that most commonly speak the language: California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Alabama, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
Chinese immigrants have been coming to America in large numbers since the mid-19th century, when the California Gold Rush compelled them to cross the Pacific Ocean. Today, there are over 5 million Chinese Americans across the country.
Estimated number of speakers nationally: 1,764,000
Number of states where it’s the most common: 1
States that most commonly speak the language: Nevada
Immigrants from the Philippines started coming to America in large numbers by the turn of the 19th century, but it wasn’t until 1965 that both skilled and educated workers came by the thousands. Today, there are over 4 million Filipino Americans.
Estimated number of speakers nationally: 1,571,000
Number of states where it’s the most common: 5
States that most commonly speak the language: Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi and Georgia.
South Vietnamese immigration to the U.S. began right after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, and more Vietnamese people have been arriving ever since. Today, over half of all Vietnamese-Americans live in either California or Texas.
Estimated number of speakers nationally: 1,260,000
Number of states where it’s the most common: 2
States that most commonly speak the language: Michigan and Tennessee
Michigan alone has over 140,000 Arabic speakers. California has over 190,000 speakers. Pew Research Center noted that Arabic is the fastest-growing language in the U.S., with speakers growing by 29% from 2010 to 2014.
Estimated number of speakers nationally: 1,172,000
Number of states where it’s the most common: 4
States that most commonly speak the language: Louisiana, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.
After the Louisiana Purchase, French evolved from its original form, creating Louisiana French which also borrows words from English, Spanish, Native American, and African languages. To this day, it’s still spoken by around 175,000 people in Louisiana and Texas.
The United States: A Multilingual Country
Although English, in all its diversity, is unquestionably the country’s dominant national language, the U.S. has always had a complex multilingual history. Long before European settlers colonized North and South America, thousands of indigenous languages thrived from coast to coast. Today, some Indigenous languages are making a comeback as many states acknowledge their importance in the history and culture of the country.
With each new wave of immigrants residing in the country from every part of the globe, the linguistic and cultural diversity of the United States is growing.
The U.S. has one of the largest Chinese populations outside China, a demographic shift that may increase in the coming years. Spanish is now the most popular second language of the country.
America is home to the largest population of English speakers in the world, but bilingualism has been on the rise in the country for decades – a trend that shows no signs of letting up.
Visualizing Two Decades of Reported Hate Crimes in the U.S.
Hate crimes across the U.S. have been on the rise since 2014. Here’s a look at the most common types of offenses over the years.
Visualizing Two Decades of Reported Hate Crimes in the U.S.
Across the U.S., thousands of hate crimes are committed each year, with many different motivating biases.
In 2020 alone, more than 10,000 unique hate crime incidents were reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—and it’s likely that thousands more were committed that didn’t get reported to law enforcement.
What are the most commonly reported motivating biases, and how have hate crime rates evolved over the years? This graphic uses data from the FBI to visualize two decades of reported hate crime incidents across America.
What is Considered a Hate Crime?
Before diving in, it’s important to determine what constitutes a hate crime.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a hate crime is a crime that’s “committed on the basis of the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.”
These types of crimes are a threat to society, as they have a broader impact on communities than other types of crimes do. This is because hate crimes can foster fear and intimidate large groups of people or marginalized communities, making them feel unwelcome, unsafe, or othered.
Hate Crimes on the Rise
Hate crimes have been rising across the U.S. in nearly every year since 2014. By 2020, reported crimes across America reached record-level highs not seen in over two decades.
|Year||Number of Reported Incidents||% Change (y-o-y)|
And sadly, these figures are likely a vast undercount. Law enforcement submit this data to the FBI of their own volition, and in 2020, thousands of agencies did not submit their crime statistics.
Race-Related Hate Crimes are Most Common
Historically, the most reported hate crimes in the U.S. are related to race. In 2020, about 66% of incidents were motivated by discrimination against the victim’s race or ethnicity.
|Type of Bias||Total Number of Crimes (2020)||% of Total|
While race is the most commonly reported hate crime, incidents related to gender and gender identity are on the rise—in 2020, there was a 9% increase in gender-related incidents, and a 34% increase in gender identity-related incidents, compared to 2019 figures.
Visualizing the Relationship Between Cancer and Lifespan
New research links mutation rates and lifespan. We visualize the data supporting this new framework for understanding cancer.
A Newfound Link Between Cancer and Aging?
A new study in 2022 reveals a thought-provoking relationship between how long animals live and how quickly their genetic codes mutate.
Cancer is a product of time and mutations, and so researchers investigated its onset and impact within 16 unique mammals. A new perspective on DNA mutation broadens our understanding of aging and cancer development—and how we might be able to control it.
Mutations, Aging, and Cancer: A Primer
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells. It is not a pathogen that infects the body, but a normal body process gone wrong.
Cells divide and multiply in our bodies all the time. Sometimes, during DNA replication, tiny mistakes (called mutations) appear randomly within the genetic code. Our bodies have mechanisms to correct these errors, and for much of our youth we remain strong and healthy as a result of these corrective measures.
However, these protections weaken as we age. Developing cancer becomes more likely as mutations slip past our defenses and continue to multiply. The longer we live, the more mutations we carry, and the likelihood of them manifesting into cancer increases.
A Biological Conundrum
Since mutations can occur randomly, biologists expect larger lifeforms (those with more cells) to have greater chances of developing cancer than smaller lifeforms.
Strangely, no association exists.
It is one of biology’s biggest mysteries as to why massive creatures like whales or elephants rarely seem to experience cancer. This is called Peto’s Paradox. Even stranger: some smaller creatures, like the naked mole rat, are completely resistant to cancer.
This phenomenon motivates researchers to look into the genetics of naked mole rats and whales. And while we’ve discovered that special genetic bonuses (like extra tumor-suppressing genes) benefit these creatures, a pattern for cancer rates across all other species is still poorly understood.
Cancer May Be Closely Associated with Lifespan
Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute report the first study to look at how mutation rates compare with animal lifespans.
Mutation rates are simply the speed at which species beget mutations. Mammals with shorter lifespans have average mutation rates that are very fast. A mouse undergoes nearly 800 mutations in each of its four short years on Earth. Mammals with longer lifespans have average mutation rates that are much slower. In humans (average lifespan of roughly 84 years), it comes to fewer than 50 mutations per year.
The study also compares the number of mutations at time of death with other traits, like body mass and lifespan. For example, a giraffe has roughly 40,000 times more cells than a mouse. Or a human lives 90 times longer than a mouse. What surprised researchers was that the number of mutations at time of death differed only by a factor of three.
Such small differentiation suggests there may be a total number of mutations a species can collect before it dies. Since the mammals reached this number at different speeds, finding ways to control the rate of mutations may help stall cancer development, set back aging, and prolong life.
The Future of Cancer Research
The findings in this study ignite new questions for understanding cancer.
Confirming that mutation rate and lifespan are strongly correlated needs comparison to lifeforms beyond mammals, like fishes, birds, and even plants.
It will also be necessary to understand what factors control mutation rates. The answer to this likely lies within the complexities of DNA. Geneticists and oncologists are continuing to investigate genetic curiosities like tumor-suppressing genes and how they might impact mutation rates.
Aging is likely to be a confluence of many issues, like epigenetic changes or telomere shortening, but if mutations are involved then there may be hopes of slowing genetic damage—or even reversing it.
While just a first step, linking mutation rates to lifespan is a reframing of our understanding of cancer development, and it may open doors to new strategies and therapies for treating cancer or taming the number of health-related concerns that come with aging.
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