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  • Writer's pictureRick White - Director of Client Services

66.6 million people in the US speak a language other than English at home

“In America’s five largest cities, 48 percent of residents now speak a language other than English at home”

This has doubled since 1990. That is more than 20% of the total population of the US. Why is this significant? In the translation services industry, a native speaker is often defined by two characteristics:

  1. The language they spoke as a child, and

  2. The language they speak at home

This rapidly increasing statistic (not only doubling in the last twenty years but tripling since 1980), should be a wake-up call for companies doing business in the US, both domestic and foreign. If you exclusively market to English speakers, or even English and Spanish, in the US, you are not reaching a huge percentage of the population.

Based on Census Bureau figures: Over 1 million native Tagalog* speakers!

Slator Weekly, a newsletter covering the translation and localization business, has a new article covering the changing demographics of language in the US, and the results are startling:

“Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Arabic, French and Korean all have over a million speakers in the US. Spanish, with over 40 million speakers, far outstrips the other languages in terms of number of speakers. Chinese, the next most widely spoken language behind Spanish, has 3.5 million speakers, according to the survey data.”

Based on a study from the US Census Bureau, released on September 18, 2018, the range of language diversity is resulting in a leap in the need for interpreters and translators, in part because of the current immigration policies which are flooding the courts with immigration-related cases. Earlier this month, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) released its own report, breaking down the numbers for languages other than English in the US. The report’s title offers up an even more significant statistic:

*Tagalog is an Austronesian language spoken as a first language by a quarter of the population of the Philippines and as a second language by the majority. Its standardized form, officially named Filipino, is the national language of the Philippines, and is one of two official languages alongside English. Wikipedia

Nearly half the citizens of the largest cities in the US speak a language other than English:

From the study:

  1. In America’s five largest cities, 48 percent of residents now speak a language other than English at home. In New York City and Houston it is 49 percent; in Los Angeles it is 59 percent; in Chicago it is 36 percent; and in Phoenix it is 38 percent.1

  2. In 2017, there were 85 cities and Census Designated Places (CDP) in which a majority of residents spoke a foreign language at home. These include Hialeah, Fla. (95 percent); Laredo, Texas (92 percent); and East Los Angeles, Calif. (90 percent). Perhaps more surprisingly, it also includes places like Elizabeth, N.J. (76 percent); Skokie, Ill. (56 percent); and Germantown, Md., and Bridgeport, Conn. (each 51 percent).

  3. Nearly one in five U.S. residents now lives in a city or CDP in which one-third of the population speaks a foreign language at home. This includes Dale City, Va. (43 percent); Norwalk, Conn., and New Rochelle, N.Y. (each 42 percent); and Aurora, Colo., and Troy, Mich. (each 35 percent).

Implications for business: Expand your markets domestically by translating your product content

For businesses doing business in the US, this means your product and service-related content cannot exist in only one or two languages. To be blunt, you are leaving money on the table if you ignore this expanding domestic market opportunity. Buyers tend to buy products when they can learn about them in their native language.

An integrated language service provider can round-trip your content quickly and accurately: No need to coordinate multiple vendors

Compared to other market-related actions, translation of your existing content is relatively inexpensive and need not be a drawn-out process. When you work with an integrated language service provider, like Language Intelligence, it basically involves sending the content, in its current formats, getting a quote, and then the provider takes it from there, delivering the translated content to you, reviewed, edited, formatted, and ready to go. Using a fully integrated language service provider eliminates finding and managing specialist vendors, a process which can result in delays, version control issues, and added costs.

Want to know more about our integrated translation services? Send us a note or give us a call!


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