The Many Languages of New York City

Friday, December 07, 2012

Just 51 percent of New Yorkers speak only English at home, according to recent data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. As for the other 49 percent, well, the languages span the globe.

Not surprisingly, Spanish (and Spanish Creole) speakers make up a bulk of the non-English population — about 25 percent of the city, or 1,87 million residents. Chinese came in second, with around 419,000 speakers in the Big Apple. There are around 106,000 people who chat in French Creole, another 81,000 who speak French, and 186,000 Russian speakers.

The survey also found 85,000 Yiddish speakers, while 47,000 speak Hebrew at home. Nearly 200,000 New Yorkers converse in an Indic language, like Hindi, Urdu or Gujarati. And 53,000 communicate in Arabic.

Check out the chart below to view all languages that can be heard in the city, including Laotian, Navajo, Hungarian Greek, along with what proportion of each group say they speak English "very well."


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Comments [12]

Newroz from Brooklyn

We speak Kurdish and English :-)

Jul. 16 2014 03:41 PM
Newroz from Brooklyn

We speak Kurdish and English :-)

Jul. 16 2014 03:41 PM
rosario rossao

French is very widely spoken in NYC...idk what you're talking about. Harlem and the Bronx have a huge population of recent immigrants from Francophone Africa, combined with the already huge Haitian population leaves for alot of French and French creole speakers.

May. 13 2014 10:25 PM
Hershele Ostropoler from Brooklyn

I think "French incl. Patois, Cajun" is a census category. Not a lot of Cajun speakers in New York, perhaps, but they ask the same question, with the same answer choices, in Louisiana.

Apr. 07 2014 07:17 PM
Kess-Ka-Say-What? from NYC

I have never in my 17 years of life in NYC commonly heard French, French Creole or Cajun French or French Patois aside from the some Haitians in Brooklyn. Where is this franco-community in NYC? Cajuns in NYC? Does Troy Landry have some second home here we do not know about? Is this a reference to Haitian-French or Louisiana-American Creole/Cajun French?

Oct. 22 2013 07:10 PM
guk from hola

cupenmen la bergen

Oct. 01 2013 10:57 AM

There are around 106,000 people who chat in French Creole, another 81,000 who speak French, and 186,000 Russian speakers.

Suman from Brooklyn

Interesting data, but odd that Bengali isn't broken out on it own. I suppose it got lumped in with "Other Indic languagues"?

Jan. 22 2013 12:09 PM

Where are the Navajo speakers on this chart?

Dec. 12 2012 09:32 PM
Mandy from NYC

It is awesome to see this breakdown of what is actually being spoken in NYC. I work with Fluent City, a language school for adults in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and we have so many students that report taking classes to communicate better with in-laws or colleagues. I would love to see everyone getting fluent in multiple languages! Check out class schedules at

Dec. 12 2012 01:40 PM
Roberto Gautier from Brooklyn, NY

As a linguistic "bee," reports on the language mosaic of NYC, are always "honey" for me. Our linguistic cornucopia, along with our amazing food mosaic, set NYC in its own special dimension. Thank you for your tantalizing research. I hope that you will continue exploring what New Yorkers speak publicly and privately.

Dec. 11 2012 09:19 PM
Bruce Glaser from Fairfield, CT

Your graph is barely respectable. Percentages do not define the bars and it appears that between them, English and Spanish, at approximately 50% each, disallow any percentage for other languages, but if all the bars of the other languages are attached they add up to considerably more than 50%. What gives?

Dec. 11 2012 07:26 PM

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