This Study Shows That Tagalog Is Among the Most Spoken Languages in American Cities

What language does your family speak around the dinner table?

While 78% of Americans only speak English at home, you may not know that it’s not an official language in the U.S. in the same way French is in France or Portuguese is in Brazil. English may be America’s de facto language (as the most commonly spoken), but millions of households across the U.S. use another language entirely.

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Within each U.S. state, major city, and district of New York City, Word Finder X, a tool for creating words, used U.S. Census Bureau data to discover the prevalent language used in local households apart from English and Spanish.

Key findings:

  • German is the most spoken language (outside of English and Spanish) in 13 states — more than any other language
  • Tagalog is the most spoken language in nine cities in the Western U.S.
  • ChineseVietnamese, and Arabic are the most spoken in major Southwest cities
  • Chinese and Russian are spoken widely across New York neighborhoods

America’s West is home to nearly half (45%) of all U.S. Asians, so it checks out that certain Asian languages are the most spoken tongues (after English and Spanish) in major regional cities. Tagalog (one of the main languages of the Philippines) is the most spoken language in nine cities, spanning from Anchorage in Alaska, where half of the local Asian community is Filipino, down to Las Vegas, Nevada, home to one of the largest Filipino-American communities in the country.

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Meanwhile, Vietnamese and Chinese are the most common languages (outside of English and Spanish) in four cities apiece. Two cities where Chinese is popularly spoken (San Francisco and Seattle) boast significant Chinese-American communities as a result of immigration.

Word Finder X analyzed the “detailed household languages” data by state, city, and NYC districts from the U.S. Census Bureau, specifically the “ACS 1-Year Estimates Public Use Microdata Sample” and the state equivalent. Within each U.S. state, major city and district of NYC, they specifically chose the most prevalent household language apart from English and Spanish.

The U.S. Census Bureau defines “detailed household language” as the language assigned to the household based on the non-English language reported by those living in the household. If it is a single-person household, the household language is the language reported for that person. If there is more than one language spoken in the household, the household language is assigned in the following order (based on the relationship to the reference person) — (1) reference person, (2) husband/wife, (3) son/daughter, (4) brother/sister, (5) father/mother, (6) grandchild, (7) in-law, (8) other relative and (9) other non-related household members.

The data collection took place in May 2023. This analysis is correct as of July 2023.

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You may view the full study here.