Language lessons across the USA and Canada

Call us! 1-877-566-9299 / 1-416-800-9242

New York’s linguistic diversity – a follow-up

After yesterday’s post on New York’s linguistic diversity, I was pointed to a follow-up post on the New York Times’ City Room blog. This post wondered what the least-spoken languages are in New York.

As they point out, no data is available for the city itself, but the census’ American Community Survey has statewide figures for the question “what languages other than English do you speak at home?” These were the least common answers:

  1. Cayuga: 6 speakers.
  2. Eskimo languages: 7.
  3. Delaware: 9.
  4. Iroquois: 10.
  5. Kusaiean (spoken on Kosrae Island, Micronesia): 10.
  6. Mohave: 13.
  7. Algonquin: 13.
  8. Kachin (spoken in northeast Myanmar) : 22.
  9. Pangasinan (spoken in northwest Philippines): 22.
  10. Pidgin: 22.
  11. Zuni: 24.
  12. Kazakh: 26.
  13. Faroese (spoken on the Faroe islands off Denmark): 27.
  14. Inupik (an Eskimo language): 29.
  15. Cajun: 31.
  16. Achinese (spoken in Aceh, western Sumatra): 32.
  17. Mayan: 35.
  18. Tungus (spoken in Siberia and northeastern China): 36.
  19. Rhaeto-Romanic (spoken in parts of Switzerland): 39.
  20. Ponapean (spoken on Pohnpei Island, Micronesia): 40.
  21. Muskogee: 40.

It’s interesting that Native American languages such as Iroquois and Algonquin are just as scarce as Kusaiean, a language spoken in Micronesia, a place most people would struggle to point out on a map (it’s north of Papua New Guinea and east of the Philippines, if you’re looking). And they are more scarce than Pangasinan, spoken in the northwest Philippines, and Kazakh, possibly only recognisable from the fictional character (and movie) Borat.

Should there be more of a focus on indigenous languages in America?