- Americans speak a lot of languages.
- Using individual-level census data, we found the most commonly spoken language at home other than English and Spanish in each state and Washington, DC.
- German, French, and Vietnamese are common in several states.
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Martin Luther King Jr. Day is coming up on Monday, and America is getting ready to celebrate his mission of resistance to injustice and the creation of an America that is truly inclusive, welcoming, and fair to all who live here.
One of the ways America shows its diverse culture is in the sheer number of languages spoken by the country’s people. This map shows which languages other than English and Spanish are the most common in each state and Washington, DC.
The US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey annually asks more than 1 million Americans questions about their lives, families, and backgrounds. One question asks respondents what language they mainly speak in their homes.
Using individual-level responses from the 2017 American Community Survey assembled and published by the Minnesota Population Center’s Integrated Public Use Microdata Series program, we found the most common language spoken at home in each state, excluding English and Spanish.
Read more: 50 maps that explain how America lives, spends, and believes
English is, unsurprisingly, the most commonly spoken language across the US, and Spanish is second most common in 46 states and the District of Columbia. So we excluded those two languages in the above map.
The map shows a wide variety of languages. German is the most commonly spoken non-English, non-Spanish language in nine states, with French most common in six states and D.C. Vietnamese was the most common language in six states. Pennsylvania stands out for the prevalence of an archaic offshoot of West Central German known as Pennsylvania Dutch, spoken predominantly by Amish and Mennonite communities.