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Common Languages in the Anglosphere

I have compiled a list of the most common first languages (aside from English) in the six countries of the Anglosphere. Keep in mind that these lists change with each census due to varying levels of immigration from different countries.


1 - Mandarin 2 - Italian 3 - Arabic 4 - Cantonese 5 - Greek 6 - Vietnamese


1 - French 2 - Chinese 3 - Punjabi 4 - Spanish 5 - German 6 - Italian


1 - Irish 2 - Polish 3 - Lithuanian 4 - Latvian 5 - Mandarin 6 - Cantonese

New Zealand:

1 - Maori 2 - Samoan 3 - Hindi 4 - Mandarin 5 - French 6 - Yue

United Kingdom:

1 - Polish 2 - Welsh 3 - Punjabi 4 - Urdu 5 - Bengali 6 - Gujarati

United States:

1 - Spanish 2 - Chinese 3 - Tagalog 4 - French 5 - Vietnamese 6 - German

March 17, 2015



I'm shocked that with HK being a British colony for so long there isn't one variety of Chinese language on the list for Great Britain. I would have expected the rest.

Where I live in the US Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Hindi are probably tops.


The UK does have large Chinese communities but by far the largest ethnic groups are those of South Asian origin, which is borne out by these results . What surprises me is that Polish is more common.


Most Poles are recent immigrants so they still have their mother tongue. But many South Asians are 2nd or 3rd generation and may have English as their first language.


Very true. And the same for the Chinese communities.


Heh, funny how our perceptions vary like that. The Polish population is much more immediately noticeable to me! They're quite concentrated in the Scottish Central Belt relative to other immigrant populations.


I am guessing that whether that is surprising is based on your area. I live in a small rural town in the Midlands-y/South West are of the UK, population a little over 5,000, and we have two shops on the high street specifically aimed at the Polish market, ie stocking imported Polish food and the like. I think that's probably half of the food shops, actually!


We have quite a few Polish in my area, but I was surprised that it had overtaken the South Asian communities. However, DWCaroline's comment makes sense, that many long-standing communities are likely to be 2nd or 3rd generation and cite English as their first language. The Polish communities are more likely to be 1st generation.


Fun fact: New Zealand has almost as many Samoans as Samoa. In 2006 there were 131,103 in New Zealand and 179,186 in Samoa.


Fun fact: ~10% of New Zealanders live in Australia =D


The New Zealanders that move to Australia raise the average IQ of both countries. ;P


I had no idea there were many Italian speakers in Australia! Where do they live? What's the history?


There aren't many, it's about 1% of the population.

They live throughout the country, in both the cities and the countryside. There's an Italian suburb in Sydney, though it's named after a German explorer. They even brought the mafia with them! =D



Didn't know there were so many Tagalog speakers in the US! They're probably all on the West Coast.


More precisely, all in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have the biggest Filipino population outside the Philipines.


Wait... Urdu? I though Hindi and Hinglish were at rise in the United Kingdom!


There are many people from Pakistan and/or pre-partition Northern India in the UK.


Hmm. Maybe. Though hindi in nz seems reasonable. Many from India go there and America. I just realised lesser Indians go to the UK


I'm surprised that Cantonese isn't somewhere on the list for Canada, yes I did hear Mandarin much more often in recent years but Cantonese can still be heard all over the traditional Chinatowns. I heard it more often than Italian or German (but I guess that could depend on where I lived.)

Also Tagalog, I would have thought that would have been on the list as well.


It's likely that Cantonese, Arabic, and Tagalog will surpass German and Italian in the next census. German and Italian have been decreasing whereas the other three have been increasing,

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Don't mean to knock your list, but I think you might be mistaken about Mandarin being the third most natively spoken language in the U.S. I believe "Chinese" only comes in third when all varieties of Chinese are included, not just Mandarin.


No indication if it's the primary language or not in the study? I'd be interested to know methodology.

Here in northern CA there are lots of 2nd and 3rd generation people who speak mandarin (or Cantonese, or whatever) AND English.


For some reason the United States Census Bureau counts all Chinese languages as a single language. I made an assumption that mandarin accounted for > 60% of the Chinese number however it was just a guess since there is no data. Cantonese is also common however Mandarin is becoming more common in China even for those outside the traditional region.

Here's the 2011 data where you can see they only use "Chinese": https://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acs-22.pdf

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I can't link to anything very reliable, so take it how you like, but I've read many times that Cantonese still has more native speakers in the U.S. than Mandarin, although Mandarin is increasingly being used as a lingua franca among Chinese Americans. Also, I'm curious if you also made a similar guess about Mandarin having more native speakers than Cantonese in Canada based on a lack of data in a census or something, because that contradicts things I've read also, including several Wikipedia (I know, not authoritative) articles (like this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Canadian#Language) that indicate Cantonese is the majority dialect there as well?

Anyway, I think assigning Mandarin rather than just "Chinese" third place just based on a guess kind of hurts your list. * EDIT * - Scratch that, I see you changed it. Sorry.


Unfortunately, in Canada, many people simply put "Chinese" on the Census form. Which could mean any Chinese language. However keep in mind that Mandarin is the language that makes up "Standard Chinese" and is the official language of China.

And so, yes, I also made adjustments there for the lack of proper data. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem possible to get an accurate and comprehensive look at Chinese languages in North America.

I have changed the United States list to show "Chinese" now.


Really interesting to see Lithuanian and Latvian speakers so strongly represented in Ireland, especially as Lithuania and Latvia have so small populations.

What is also surprising is the amount of Italian and Greek speakers in Australia.


I agree completely! In Canada, We have soooo many chinese speaking citizens! Starting to lear Italian so I know something new!!

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