US native language

How Many Native Languages Are Spoken In The United States?

(Last Updated On: March 21, 2021)

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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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

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.

Cherokee

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.

Dakota

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

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

Keres

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.

Zuni

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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