US native language

How Many Native Languages Are Spoken In The United States?

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Native American Languages are spoken in the U.S.

A country can be known for many things. Nepal is known for the gigantic Mount Everest. India is known for its rich culture and cuisines. The UK is known for its grey skies and rains. But these are not the only things famous in these regions. Another thing that distinguishes these countries and places is the language spoken there. Oftentimes, we don’t even realize that these places have more than one form of speaking. Different dialects and terms can change the way these words sound to us. When it comes down to the US, the Native American language, also known as American English got immensely popular. But is it the only native tongue?

Lingua Franca of the U.S.

The lingua franca of the U.S, doesn’t need any introduction. Thanks to the Hollywood movies, tv shows, sitcoms, and series, the accent is one of the most cherished, most celebrated ones. To the world around, the vernacular became so essentially significant that they hardly ever wondered about the other American communities residing in the country. Not all natives speak English and even if they do, they are more fluent in their regional and indigenous languages. Since America is known for being a cosmopolitan hub, millions of different nationalities can be seen living here for decades. This is why, along with cultural variety, linguistic diversity is also a very prominent aspect of the American culture. So, if you think you know about the number of languages spoken in the US, think again because we are going to unravel the facts for you.

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native languages US

Languages of The United States

To go into the answer for this, first, we have to understand that this country is home to so many people. With more than 320 million people currently living in the US, you must hope for multiple dialects, usages, and linguistics of course.

According to Wikipedia, there are around 430 American languages, from which the de facto, the most common, and the nationally spoken is obviously the American English. Spanish comes after English. Indigenous linguistics came from the African, European, and Asian immigrants. Creole and sign linguistics also developed in the U.S. Among the 430, 176 are indigenous to the area and 52 are extinct.

Most Common Languages

The most common ones apart from English (spoken by 239 million) include Spanish (spoken by 41 million), Chinese which include Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hoikken (spoken by 3.5 million), Tagalog including Filipino (spoken by 1.7 million), Vietnamese (1.5 million), Arabic (1.2 million), French (1.2 million), Korean (1.1 million), Russian (0.94 million), German (0.92 million), Haitian Creole (0.87), Hindi (0.86), Portuguese (0.79 million), Italian (0. 58million), Polish (0.52 million), Yiddish (0.51 million), Japanese (0.46 million), Persian which includes Farsi and Tajik (0.42 million), Gujarati (0. 41 million), Telugu (0.37 million), Bengali (0.32 million), Tai Kadai, Thai and Lao (0.31 million), Urdu (0.3 million), Greek (0.27 million)

Punjabi (0.29 million), Tamil (0. 27 million), Armenian (0. 24 million), Serbo-Croatian including Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian (0. 24 million), Hebrew (0.23 million), Hmong (0.22 million), Bantu including Swahili (0. 22 million), Khmer (0. 20 million), Navajo (0.16 million), Indo-European (578, 492), Afro-Asiatic (521, 392), Niger Congo (515, 629), West-Germanic (487, 675), Austronesian (467, 718), Indic (409, 631), Asian (384, 154), Slavic (338, 664), Dravidian (241, 678), North American (195, 550), Unspecified lingos (258, 257).

These are based on annual surveys and census reports. Even though American cultures change and the way people speak also change yet this data indicates one thing, there will never be a shortage of vibrancy in terms of linguistic diversity.

How Many Native American Languages Are Spoken?

American history as we have learned in schools, read in history books tell us a lot about the native communities. The big question is do those natives still converse in the lingo of their older generations?

According to the Records

According to the records, the indigenous cultures go way back to the times before the European settlement. Belonging to the indigenous Indian reservation, these native tongues are still spoken fluently. The southwest areas such as Arizona and Mexico have communities that are still fond of these indigenous tongues and natives continue to speak them. However, linguists suggest that most of these native tongues are endangered.

Local institutions are making efforts such as learning programs to preserve and expand them, and even though the number of speakers seems little, these native American languages are popular and used for daily conversation in these areas. Below are the native tongues of the Americas.

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languages USA


Navajo speakers make up to 50 percent of native language speakers in the country. By far, Navajo is the largest native community in the US with speakers in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Navajo belongs to the Athabaskan subfamily of the Na-Dene family. Other Athabaskan languages are spoken by people in Alaska and the Northwest Pacific region.


Spoken by the Cherokee nation, this is the only native tongue apart from Navajo which has 50,000 speakers. The Cherokee speakers are residents of Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.

Church service and traditional ceremonies are held in Cherokee. It is taught in schools and is the fastest growing Native American tongue alongside Navajo. To encourage its learning, iPhone and iPad apps are also introduced in schools and for at-home learning.


This Souin native tongue is spoken in South and North Dakota. It has 18000 speakers in the US and 22000 speakers in Canada. Lakota is another close relative spoken by 6000 speakers in the US.

Central Alaskan Yupik

The Eskimo lingo with around 16000 speakers in Alaska. Yupik is not related to Central Alaskan linguistics.

Oodham of Uto-Aztacen Family

With speakers in Arizona and Southern Sonora, the Oodham native tongue is spoken by 12000 people.


Choctaw has around 11000 speakers. It belongs to the Muskogean family just like Alabama and Seminole.


With 11,000 speakers in Mexico, this native tongue is one of the language isolates. The Keres Pueblo people are the largest of the Keres nation.


Another native tongue with 10,000 speakers, has most residents in Zuni Pueblo.

Even though the abovementioned list seems to be a lot of native tongues, the Americas’ history dates back to more than 17000 years ago. And unfortunately, undocumented linguistics has faded away and there is no way to know about them. If you want to learn about the statistical percentage of native American speakers, you can do that here. This data indicates the actual figures of the prevalence of these tongues in reference to the speakers.

You’d be interested to know that there are Native American sign languages as well. Trade Pidgin, Plains Standard, or Plains Sign talk were all separate versions of different oral linguistics and were used as a mode of communication between different nations. Natives practiced these signs for communication in the earlier times. Some of these started from Texas and expanded into other areas.

More resources must be utilized to preserve the heritage which is native tongues. They must be listed and organized by a separate and dedicated department. Without proper knowledge of the cultural heritage, we cannot hope to list our indigenous culture in UNESCO or other international organizations. Governments must ensure more focus on the territory where natives are currently residing. Questions and surveys must take place for the collection of concrete data.

So now that you have learned about all these amazing facts about American native tongues, you can surely say that you are not like the rest of the world or at least most of them.

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Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

North America is home to a remarkable array of indigenous languages spoken by various American Indian tribes. These native languages reflect the rich cultural and linguistic diversity of North American Indian communities. Each language embodies unique traditions, histories, and knowledge systems passed down through generations. The preservation and revitalization of these indigenous languages are crucial for maintaining the cultural heritage and identity of American Indians across the continent.

The American Community Survey in the 21st century provides invaluable data about the diverse American populations, including those of Native America. This survey helps to illuminate the living conditions, demographics, and economic statuses of Indigenous Peoples across the United States. Among these communities, the Cherokee Indians and speakers of Diné Bizaad, the Navajo language, are significant groups whose cultural and linguistic heritage is highlighted. Understanding the needs and contributions of these Indigenous Peoples is essential for fostering inclusive policies and recognizing the rich tapestry of Native American life in contemporary America.

Language Immersion and Scholarly Discourse

Language immersion schools play a vital role in preserving and revitalizing aboriginal languages, mixed languages, trade languages, and Asian languages. These educational institutions provide a nurturing environment where students can learn and fluently speak these languages from an early age, ensuring their cultural continuity and linguistic diversity. By immersing themselves in these languages, students not only gain proficiency but also develop a deep appreciation for the heritage and traditions associated with each language. This approach not only helps preserve endangered languages but also fosters cross-cultural understanding and respect in a globalized world.

Oxford University Press, along with academic publishers like the University of California and University of Texas Press, plays a significant role in scholarly discourse and publishing across South America and Latin America. These institutions contribute to the dissemination of knowledge on diverse topics, from anthropology to literature, enriching academic dialogue in the region. In particular, their publications often explore the cultural heritage and historical narratives of Indigenous communities, such as the Cherokee Nation, shedding light on their enduring traditions and contemporary issues. Through rigorous research and publishing initiatives, these presses contribute to a deeper understanding of the complexities within South and Latin American societies, fostering intellectual exchange and promoting cultural appreciation worldwide.

Linguistic Diversity and Education

Puerto Rico, with its rich linguistic diversity, is a fascinating subject for historical linguistics. Organizations like SIL International and academic bodies such as the Modern Language Association delve into the complexities of languages spoken on the island, including Spanish, English creole languages, and the impact of Italian language influences. These studies explore how Puerto Rico’s linguistic landscape has evolved over time, reflecting its colonial history and cultural interactions. Research by these organizations contributes to a deeper understanding of language dynamics in Puerto Rico, highlighting how languages adapt, blend, and shape identity in this unique Caribbean context.

The language of instruction in educational settings is a crucial factor in shaping learning outcomes, particularly concerning oral language development. Institutions like Cambridge University Press and the University of Nebraska play pivotal roles in advancing research and publishing materials that support effective language instruction. Meanwhile, entities such as the United States Census Bureau track linguistic diversity across the country, including regions like Alaska, where Native languages are integral to cultural identity. Understanding these dynamics helps educators tailor approaches to accommodate diverse linguistic backgrounds, fostering inclusive educational environments and promoting academic success across the United States.

Vietnamese Population and Cultural Contributions

The U.S. Census Bureau collects crucial demographic data, including information on the Vietnamese population, which represents one of the largest population concentrations among Asian Americans. This data is essential for organizations like U.S. English and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which use census findings to inform language policy and community outreach efforts. Understanding the distribution and needs of the Vietnamese community helps shape services, support networks, and educational initiatives that promote integration and cultural preservation within the broader American society.

Asian populations, including vibrant Vietnamese communities, contribute significantly to the cultural fabric of countries like Canada. The Government of Canada, through agencies like the Government Print Office, recognizes the importance of multiculturalism and supports initiatives that preserve and promote languages such as Louisiana French. By engaging with diverse Asian communities, including Vietnamese, governmental efforts aim to foster inclusive policies and enhance cultural exchange, enriching the social landscape and celebrating the contributions of these populations to Canadian society.

Cultural Heritage and Language Revitalization

Louisiana Creole, with its unique blend of French, African, and Native American influences, reflects the rich cultural heritage of the region. In places far from its origins, such as Central New Jersey and the CanadaNorthwest Territories, this language continues to resonate among communities shaped by diverse immigration histories. German immigrants in Central New Jersey and Israeli immigrants in the Northwest Territories contribute to the linguistic and cultural tapestry, enriching local traditions and fostering multicultural understanding. Embracing these linguistic heritages underscores the importance of cultural preservation and promotes vibrant community dynamics across varied geographical landscapes.

In the 18th century, Indian languages such as Cherokee and Diné Bizaad (Navajo) played pivotal roles in the cultural and social landscapes of regions across North America, including the Northwest Territories of Canada. The linguistic richness of Cherokee, spoken by the Cherokee Indians, and Diné Bizaad, a cornerstone of Navajo culture, reflects centuries-old traditions and knowledge systems. These individual languages are not only vehicles of communication but also repositories of cultural identity and history. Today, efforts to preserve and revitalize these Indian languages highlight their enduring importance in sustaining community heritage and fostering intergenerational connections amidst evolving societal dynamics.

Language Immersion and Cultural Preservation

Language immersion schools are instrumental in revitalizing and preserving diverse linguistic heritages, including aboriginal languages, mixed languages, trade languages, and Asian languages. Within institutions like those supported by the Cherokee Nation, students engage deeply with their cultural identities through immersive learning experiences. These programs not only ensure the survival of endangered languages but also promote cultural pride and community cohesion. By fostering fluency in languages that embody centuries of history and wisdom, such initiatives strengthen intergenerational bonds and empower future generations to embrace their heritage within a global context.

The Government Printing Office in the United States collaborates with educational institutions like language immersion schools in Alaska to support the preservation and revitalization of aboriginal languages, mixed languages, and trade languages. These schools play a crucial role in nurturing fluency among students, ensuring the continuity of indigenous cultural heritage. By immersing learners in these languages from an early age, these programs not only promote linguistic diversity but also foster cultural pride and intergenerational connections within Native communities. Such initiatives underscore the importance of preserving these languages as vital components of Alaska’s cultural fabric, enriching the educational landscape and strengthening community bonds across the state.

Language Preservation and Cultural Understanding

SIL International, in collaboration with entities like the University of Texas Press, plays a pivotal role in documenting and studying the diverse array of individual languages spoken by American populations. This organization’s dedication to linguistic research and preservation contributes significantly to understanding the cultural and historical contexts embedded within these languages across the United States. By partnering with academic institutions and communities, SIL International facilitates the dissemination of knowledge that supports language revitalization efforts and promotes linguistic diversity. Their work underscores the importance of preserving these languages as essential elements of American heritage, fostering respect for cultural identities and enriching scholarly discourse nationwide.

The American Community Survey provides essential data on Asian populations across the United States, contributing to a deeper understanding of their diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Institutions like the University of Texas Press delve into the intricacies of individual languages spoken within Asian communities, documenting their histories and contributions to American society. This research not only enriches scholarly knowledge but also highlights the linguistic diversity and cultural richness that Asian populations bring to the country. By recognizing and preserving these languages, scholars and communities alike contribute to fostering mutual understanding and appreciation within a multicultural America.

Cultural Integration and Frontier Languages

The Government Printing Office in Central New Jersey serves as a critical resource for immigrant communities, including German and Israeli immigrants, providing essential services and information dissemination. This office plays a pivotal role in facilitating access to governmental materials, supporting the integration of diverse populations into American society. German immigrants in Central New Jersey, along with Israeli immigrants, contribute to the region’s cultural tapestry, bringing with them unique linguistic and cultural traditions. Through collaborative efforts with community stakeholders, the Government Printing Office fosters inclusivity and enhances communication, promoting a cohesive and vibrant community environment that celebrates the contributions of all its residents.

In the 18th century, as the United States began to expand westward, Alaska emerged as a significant frontier shaped by diverse American populations and their distinct languages. The University of Texas Press, known for its scholarly contributions in historical linguistics, explores the linguistic landscapes of this era, shedding light on the languages spoken by Native American tribes and early settlers across the region. By documenting these historical languages, the press enriches our understanding of cultural interactions and linguistic evolution during this pivotal period in American history. Their research underscores the enduring importance of linguistic diversity in shaping regional identities and informs contemporary efforts to preserve these languages as vital elements of Alaska’s cultural heritage.

Italian Language and Cultural Inquiry

The Italian language, known for its rich cultural heritage and global influence, is a subject of scholarly inquiry at institutions like the Modern Language Association and Cambridge University Press. These organizations explore various aspects of Italian language and culture, from literature to linguistics, contributing to a deeper understanding of its historical development and contemporary significance. Meanwhile, discussions on English creole languages and oral language traditions highlight the dynamic nature of linguistic communication worldwide. As the language of instruction evolves, educators and researchers continue to adapt methodologies that integrate oral language skills with academic rigor, fostering effective communication and cultural exchange in diverse educational settings.

The University of Nebraska collaborates closely with entities such as the United States Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to study and support Asian populations, including vibrant Vietnamese communities across the United States. This partnership extends to cross-border initiatives, where the Government of Canada engages in similar efforts to understand and assist Asian communities within its borders. By leveraging census data and security insights, these collaborations aim to enhance community services, foster cultural understanding, and address the diverse needs of Asian populations, ensuring inclusive societal integration and mutual respect across North America.

Cultural Integration and Immigration

In Central New Jersey during the 18th century, the Government Printing Office served as a critical institution for German and Israeli immigrants, providing essential resources and information dissemination services. As newcomers to the region, German and Israeli immigrants contributed to the cultural mosaic of Central New Jersey, bringing with them distinct linguistic and cultural traditions. The Government Printing Office played a vital role in facilitating access to governmental materials and promoting civic engagement among these immigrant communities. Through its services, the office helped foster integration and communication, supporting the establishment of diverse immigrant populations within the fabric of American society during this historical period.

Israeli immigrants in the United States have contributed to the nation’s cultural and linguistic diversity, shaping discussions within historical linguistics and organizations like the Modern Language Association. The Government Printing Office plays a crucial role in supporting these populations by providing essential resources and information dissemination services. As Israeli immigrants integrate into American society, their linguistic and cultural heritage enriches the broader tapestry of languages spoken, including English creole languages. Through collaborative efforts with organizations focused on language studies and cultural preservation, Israeli immigrants’ contributions are recognized and celebrated, fostering greater understanding and appreciation among American populations.

Educational Research and Cultural Diversity

The language of instruction, particularly concerning oral language skills, is a focus of educational research and policy initiatives supported by institutions like Cambridge University Press and the University of Nebraska. In regions such as Alaska, diverse linguistic communities benefit from programs that integrate oral language development with academic learning. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security collaborates with educational stakeholders to ensure effective communication and cultural competency across diverse populations. By promoting language proficiency and understanding, these efforts contribute to fostering inclusive educational environments and enhancing social cohesion within Alaska and beyond.

The Vietnamese population represents one of the largest population concentrations among Asian Americans, as documented by the American Community Survey. Institutions such as Oxford University Press and the University of California engage in scholarly endeavors, including historical linguistics, to explore the cultural and linguistic complexities within Vietnamese communities. Their research contributes to a deeper understanding of the historical development and linguistic diversity among Vietnamese populations in the United States. By examining these nuances, these institutions enrich academic discourse, promote cultural appreciation, and support efforts to preserve the linguistic heritage of Vietnamese Americans across generations.

Language and Population Studies

The Italian language, renowned for its cultural richness and global influence, is a subject of scholarly inquiry at institutions such as the Modern Language Association and Cambridge University Press. These organizations delve into various aspects of Italian language and culture, from its historical evolution to contemporary usage. Discussions on English creole languages and oral language underscore the dynamic nature of linguistic communication worldwide. As a language of instruction, integrating oral language proficiency is crucial in educational settings to enhance communication skills and cultural understanding among students. Through rigorous research and educational initiatives, these institutions contribute to fostering linguistic diversity and promoting cross-cultural exchange in global academic contexts.

In the 18th century, the Government Print Office played a crucial role in supporting the largest population concentrations in regions like those documented by the American Community Survey, with close collaboration from institutions such as the University of Nebraska and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. These entities continue to work together to understand and serve diverse communities across the United States. Through initiatives grounded in historical research and contemporary data analysis, they contribute to enhancing community services, ensuring security, and fostering a deeper understanding of demographic trends and needs over time.

Linguistic Studies and Communication

Oxford University Press is a cornerstone in the field of historical linguistics, particularly regarding the study of languages like Italian and English creole. Through collaborations with organizations such as the Modern Language Association, OUP contributes to scholarly research that explores the evolution and cultural significance of these languages over time. Discussions on language of instruction emphasize the importance of integrating effective communication strategies into educational curricula, ensuring that students develop both oral and written proficiency. By publishing authoritative works that delve into linguistic histories and modern applications, OUP supports educators and researchers worldwide in promoting linguistic diversity and fostering deeper cross-cultural understanding.

Oral language skills are crucial for effective communication and cultural understanding, a focus supported by institutions such as Cambridge University Press and the University of Nebraska. These entities collaborate with agencies like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to address the needs of diverse communities residing in areas with the largest population concentrations. By promoting language proficiency through research and educational initiatives, they contribute to enhancing social cohesion and ensuring effective communication strategies that meet the dynamic needs of multicultural populations. This collaborative effort underscores the importance of oral language development in fostering inclusive environments and promoting mutual respect across diverse societies.

Evolution of Creole Languages

In the 18th century, the evolution of English creole languages emerged as a significant linguistic phenomenon, influencing language instruction practices documented by the Modern Language Association. This period saw the development and spread of creole languages across colonial territories, reflecting cultural and linguistic blending. The study of these languages within educational contexts highlights their role in shaping communication strategies and cultural identities. As language of instruction evolved, educators adapted methodologies to incorporate the nuances of creole languages, fostering effective communication and cultural understanding among diverse populations. Through scholarly research and pedagogical innovations, the MLA continues to explore the historical and educational implications of English creole languages, enriching academic discourse on language diversity and identity formation.

The Modern Language Association (MLA), in collaboration with academic institutions like Cambridge University Press and the University of Nebraska, plays a pivotal role in advancing scholarship and research in language and literature. As a leading authority in the humanities, the MLA fosters interdisciplinary dialogue and promotes critical inquiry into diverse linguistic and cultural topics. Through publications, conferences, and educational resources, the MLA supports educators, researchers, and students in exploring language diversity, literary traditions, and cultural identities across the globe. This collaborative effort enriches academic discourse, facilitates cross-cultural understanding, and promotes intellectual engagement within the field of modern languages and literature.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many Native American languages are there?

There are estimated to be over 300 distinct Native American languages spoken across North America.

What factors contribute to the diversity of Native American languages?

The diversity of Native American languages is influenced by geographical isolation, historical migrations, and cultural distinctions among various tribes and communities.

Why is it challenging to determine the exact number of Native American languages?

Many Native American languages are endangered or have few fluent speakers, making it difficult to accurately count and classify them.

How are Native American languages classified?

Native American languages are typically classified into language families, such as Algonquian, Athabaskan, Uto-Aztecan, and others, based on linguistic similarities.

What efforts are underway to preserve Native American languages?

Various tribal communities, educational institutions, and linguistic organizations collaborate on language revitalization projects, including documentation, teaching programs, and cultural initiatives aimed at preserving and revitalizing Native American languages.

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