Language Map

“You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English,” said xenophobic Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker in an infamous article in Sports Illustrated. “Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there.”

Though he meant it as an insult, New Yorkers do speak a huge variety of languages. Among these languages, the five most spoken in New York City besides English are Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Italian and French.

Information on the distribution of the speakers of these languages, from the 25 speakers of Navajo to the 1,832,402 speakers of Spanish and Spanish Creole, is now available online, courtesy of the Modern Language Association. The MLA has provided an interactive map that provides a visual representation of the number of speakers of a given language anywhere in the country.

Spanish, the second most spoken language in New York City, has up to 500,000 speakers in Queens, Brookyn, and Manhattan and up to 1,000,000 speakers in the Bronx. Staten Island, on the other hand, only has up to 20,000 speakers.

 

 

Chinese, the third most spoken language in New York City, lags far behind Spanish in total speakers. There are only 323,517 Chinese speakers in the city. Most of these Chinese speakers live in Queens and Brooklyn. These statistics include all Chinese dialects spoken in the city.

 

Russian is spoken throughout New York, but the most speakers live in Queens and Brooklyn, with up to 500,000 in each borough. The highest concentration of Russian speakers is in South Brooklyn, where a collection of five bordering zip codes have up to 20,000 speakers each.

 

Italian speakers in the city, similar to Russian and Chinese speakers, also mostly live in Queens and Brooklyn, with 50,000 in each borough.

 

Francophones are spread throughout New York, with up to 50,000 speakers each in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. The Bronx has up to 20,000 speakers, while Staten Island has no more than 5,000. There appear to be two centers of population for the French speaking community in New York, one in the heart of Brooklyn and the other centered in the 10025 zip code on Manhattan’s upper west side.

You can find these statistics, and more, at http://www.mla.org/census_main.

 

Back to The Citizen Page

 

This website is brought to you by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by grants from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Independence Community Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the New York Times Foundation and visitors like you.