NY: Talk of the town


New York Post, NY
June 20 2004

June 20, 2004 — New York is a city lost in translation. Almost half of
the Big Apple’s residents do not speak English as their first language,
according to surprising new research.

The research, conducted by the Modern Language Association, gives the
first neighborhood-by-neighborhood analysis of the languages spoken
across the five boroughs.

English, the official language in New York City since 1664, is spoken
as a first language by 3.9 million residents, while almost 3.6 million
people are more familiar with another tongue.

English is no longer the most widely spoken first language in more
than 30 New York neighborhoods, the research found.

Spanish has become the most widely spoken language in one-quarter of
the city’s neighborhoods.

The research, which uses data from the 2000 Census, allows linguists to
track everything from the number of Italian speakers in Tottenville,
S.I., (669) to the number of Gujarati speakers in Glen Oaks, Queens

“Our goal is to let people see what languages are spoken where,” says
Rosemary Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association,
an organization dedicated to promoting the study and teaching of

David Goldberg, a Yiddish-language scholar who is MLA’s director
of foreign-language programs, said the research also breaks down
neighborhood language patterns into two major age groups — under 18
and over 18.

Such capabilities make it easy to spot the generation difference
between Manhattan’s Yiddish-speaking community, where less than 3
percent of speakers are under 18, and Brooklyn’s Yiddish-speaking
community, where the number of children speakers jumps to 35 percent.

Venture up to Rockland County, and the ratio of youthful speakers
rises to 47 percent.

“You can see a vibrant, relatively young Hasidic community moving in,”
says Goldberg.

A similar pattern appears to be emerging within the city’s
Chinese-speaking population.

Traditionally centered around Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the
community has formed two distinct offshoots in Brooklyn and Flushing,
Queens, over the last two decades.

Again, age data offer a hint at new immigration patterns: In Manhattan,
13 percent of Chinese speakers are under 18.

In Brooklyn and Queens, the numbers rise to 18 percent and 15 percent,

When it comes to assessing the city’s two main language groups,
English and Spanish, The Bronx weighs in with the city’s largest
Spanish-speaking population (534,660), while Staten Island boasts
the largest percentage of English speakers — 74 percent.

Both boroughs have their surprises, however. The Bronx also happens
to be home to the city’s largest Tagalog community (3,981), while
Staten Island’s 10304 ZIP code hosts the largest concentration of
African-language speakers, 4.3 percent.

To really hear New York’s increasing linguistic diversity, one need
only visit Queens.

In addition to topping out in terms of native Chinese (126,904), Korean
(57,447), and Urdu (17,837) speakers, the city’s second-largest borough
boasts the most Armenian (3,531), Thai (2,794), and Navajo speakers

Perhaps the most significant evidence of linguistic diversity,
however, is the fact that English, while still predominant, registers
as a majority language in less than half — 28 out of 60 — Queens
ZIP codes.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress