“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.
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.
has provided an interactive map that provides a visual representation
of the number of speakers of a given language anywhere in the
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.