It's a very good framework but unfortunately the data may not be reliable.
How accurate are the data? The Census 2000 data about language are based on sampling and may be somewhat different from data that would have been obtained if all the census respondents had been asked about their language use.
These are not hard numbers from a mandatory census forms. As far as Armenian language is concerned, there are over 250,000 Armenians currently residing in the Greater Los Angeles area, maybe even more. From my experience, 90 to 95 percent of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants who make up the overwhelming majority of the demographic are fluent in their native tongue. And this is just Los Angeles vicinity. When other states are figured into the equation, you'd get a number which is 3 times as high as current results.
There is also the 3rd language which plays a role in skewing the percentages. For example, those Armenians who migrated to US in 70's through 80's from Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Germany, et al, are likely to be fluent in Arabic or Persian. Naturally, having lived in those countries for 2 or more generations, they tend to list aforementioned languages as their second, regardless of national ties and motivations. There is a degree of assimilation, which plays a role.
On the other hand, you have those who relocated from the Republic of Armenia or other former Soviet republics. Azerbaijan and Russia are high up on that list. Naturally, those who come directly from Armenia list the second language accordingly. But anything else will give you a 50/50 split between Russian and Armenian when questionnaires are concerned.
What I'm implying is that data presented on the MLA site is two-dimensional and should be taken with a grain of salt. If I were personally invested in other communities, perhaps I could maintain that Hebrew or Korean languages had a bigger/smaller spread than presented by the map, but I stick to what I know.
Posted by: Ian Artaxias at June 24, 2004 04:03 AM
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