Freshly-released data from the 2011 American Community Survey shows us where speakers of different languages speak throughout the USA. Over 20% of US residents speak a language other than English at home, and thanks to a handy online mapping tool, we can now see exactly where they live!
The mapping tool shows a dot on a map for every 10 people speaking a particular language. Spanish, French, French Creole, Italian, Portuguese, German, Russian, Polish, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Arabic are represented. (I don’t know why those particular languages were selected and not others.) It’s also possible to select for people who speak English well, and those who are only proficient in a non-English language.
Interestingly, in the Princeton area, we can see some indications of clustering of speakers of particular languages. As shown by the image above, Spanish speakers seem to cluster around Princeton’s walkable downtown area, and also in other urban areas. Chinese speakers are widespread, but seem to live with greater frequency on the south side of Route 1, in Plainsboro and West Windsor– both townships with more suburban character. (Although Plainsboro now has greater overall density than Princeton, and a new, walkable ‘Village Center‘.)
If we look at German-speakers, who are present in much smaller numbers, we notice that they show particularly tight clustering in Princeton, with a secondary cluster in Plainsboro:
What factors do you think explain clustering of particular languages in areas around Princeton? We’d be particularly interested to hear from native speakers of non-English languages! Please leave a comment below!