Language Map USA
June 23, 2004 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Modern Language Association Language Map of the USA.
posted by stbalbach (12 comments total)
This would be really nifty if it loaded.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:42 AM on June 23, 2004

Yeah, they're not kidding about "a minute or longer."
posted by callmejay at 11:46 AM on June 23, 2004

Gmail's server is wonky too. Maybe they're in cahoots.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:52 AM on June 23, 2004

"Retrieving map data. This may take a minute or more forever."
posted by punishinglemur at 11:58 AM on June 23, 2004

For those impatient types, there is also textual tabular data available.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:08 PM on June 23, 2004

Hey, in my old zip code, there are 4 people who speak Arabic, but 922 who speak Tagalog!
posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:15 PM on June 23, 2004

hmm it was quick earlier maybe its making the blog circuit.. worth it though I could spend days looking at the patterns that unfold. If your in an urban area with pockets of ethnicity it will detail down to the zipcode level at less than 100 speakers for everything from Navajo to Cambodian. Pretty cool for finding areas with authentic restaurants and grocery stores.
posted by stbalbach at 12:16 PM on June 23, 2004

I'm stunned by how few people speak Japanese. My elementary school was about 15% Japanese (my town was famous in the early 80s for having an excellent Japanese ESL program, so lots of people moved there), and I guess that and my normal geeky preoccupation with Japan has skewed my mental statistics...
posted by dmd at 12:38 PM on June 23, 2004

What's up with "Chinese"? All the different languages are lumped together?
posted by hackly_fracture at 12:57 PM on June 23, 2004

. My elementary school was about 15% Japanese (my town was famous in the early 80s for having an excellent Japanese ESL program, so lots of people moved there)...

dmd, did you grow up in Scarsdale, NY too? The town was (rather famously) approximately 25% Japanese immigrants when I was a kid (mid-1980's).
posted by Asparagirl at 1:44 PM on June 23, 2004

"Browser not supported". Ungh, browser-dependent sites bad.
posted by fvw at 5:49 PM on June 23, 2004

What's up with "Chinese"? All the different languages are lumped together?

Yes. You are, of course, correct that the so-called "dialects" (Mandarin, Wu, Min, Hakka, &c -- see the descriptions here) are actually separate languages, but this is not a culturally acknowledged fact, so immigrants from China are likely to either say they speak "Chinese" (whatever variant that may be) or to say they speak the dialect of the village their family is from. So it would be impractical to try and distinguish further.

As for the language map, a commenter on my entry pointed out:
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
posted by languagehat at 12:48 PM on June 24, 2004

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