Non-English and non-Spanish languages in the USA
Last month, Ben Blatt posted
a series of maps on Slate, showing the most commonly-spoken language other than English in each state (and more besides). Inspired by those maps,
below I show the equivalent map at the census tract level, which is a finer level of detail than counties. You may have to wait 15 seconds or so for
Google to process the data and display it for you. The numbers come from the 2000 Census, so it's a little bit out of date, but it's the most recent
dataset that I could find that has this much detail.
Click on any "tract" to bring up its county, the most commonly-spoken language other than English and Spanish, the percentage of people speaking that
language, and the population (the latter only counting those aged 5 years and over). The tract code is a string of digits and will likely only be of
interest to people wanting to check the original data. (See also the equivalent map including Spanish.)
It is a little unfortunate that many languages are lumped together in large categories. The Native American languages are divided into Navajo and
"Other"; all African languages are called "African languages", and so on. Still there is plenty to see in the map – languages that are listed
individually plus Chinese account for around 86% of all the tracts containing at least one speaker of a language other than English and Spanish.
The legend at right shows the most commonly seen languages or language categories in the map, which together account for 91% of all the tracts with at
least one speaker of a of a language other than English and Spanish. The opacity of the shading is related to the percentage of people in the tract who
speak the language in question, with solid colour being used for anything over 30%.
The data is available from the wonderful National Historical Geographic Information System, which is run
out of the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota. I used Table NPCT010C from dataset 2000_SF3a, along with the corresponding
shapefile for the tracts.