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Brice Russ

Exploring Linguistic Diversity in the United States

January 29, 2014 —
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Whether you’re trying to find the perfect word in Scrabble or study the languages of the world, Wolfram|Alpha has always provided computational insights into how we communicate. Now we’re taking that a step further—with data from the American Community Survey, we can take a closer look at where different languages are spoken in the United States.

From Arabic to Yiddish, Wolfram|Alpha can tell you where over 30 different languages are spoken at home. To get an overview of where a given language is spoken, try a query like “French speakers in the US”:French speakers in the USA few interesting facts pop out from this result:

So, what cities in Louisiana have the largest populations of French speakers?

cities in louisiana with the largest population of french speakers

New Orleans ranks high, as you’d expect, but the #1 spot goes to the home of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette—whose sports teams, appropriately enough, are the Rajin’ Cajuns.

You can compare cities to see which one has the highest percentage of speakers of a given language:

Chinese-speaking population fraction in NYC, Chicago, Seattle

(The final chart of the query above can be recreated for common languages spoken in a given city by using the query “most common languages spoken in…“, for example.)

Wolfram|Alpha can also report on language patterns broken down by ZIP code:

which us zip code has the largest number of spanish speakers

Or Congressional district:congressional districts with the largest number of korean speakers

Try taking a look at the linguistic breakdown of your hometown, or find out where you can talk with speakers of a language you’d like to learn. Best of luck exploring!