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Chinese language in the United States

Chinese language and its various dialects are spoken throughout the United States, many of the Chinese live in Chinatowns, like this one in downtown Manhattan.
Chinese speakers in the US
<center>Year <center>Speakers
1960a <center>89,609
1970a <center>190,260
1980[1] <center>630,806
1990[2] <center>1,319,462
2000[3] <center>2,022,143
2010[4] <center>2,808,692
^a Foreign-born population only[5]

Chinese, mostly Yue dialects including Taishanese and Cantonese, is the third most-spoken language in the United States, almost completely spoken within Chinese American populations and by immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, especially in California.[6] Over 2 million Americans speak some variety of Chinese, with Standard Chinese becoming increasingly common due to immigration from mainland China and Taiwan.[6]

In New York City, although Mandarin is spoken as a native language among only ten percent of Chinese speakers, it is used as a secondary dialect and is replacing Cantonese as their lingua franca.[7] In addition, immigration from Fujian is bringing an increasingly large number of Min speakers. Wu dialects, previously unheard of in the United States, are now spoken by a minority of recent Chinese immigrants hailing from Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai.

Although Chinese Americans grow up learning English, some teach their children Chinese for a variety of reasons including preservation of an ancient civilization, preservation of a unique identity, pride in their cultural ancestry, desire for easy communication with them and other relatives, and the perception that Chinese will be a very useful language as China's economic strength increases. Cantonese, historically the language of most Chinese immigrants, is the third most widely spoken non-English language in the United States.[8]

Chinese speakers by states in 2000[9]
State Chinese speakers
California <center>815,386
New York <center>374,627
Texas <center>91,500
New Jersey <center>84,345
Massachusetts <center>71,412
Illinois <center>65,251

About 40% of all Chinese-speakers in the United States live in California.

See also


  1. ^ "Appendix Table 2. Languages Spoken at Home: 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2007.". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Detailed Language Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English for Persons 5 Years and Over --50 Languages with Greatest Number of Speakers: United States 1990". United States Census Bureau. 1990. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Language Spoken at Home: 2000". United States Bureau of the Census. Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  4. ^ "2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates: Language spoken at home by ability to speak English for the population 5 years and over". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Mother Tongue of the Foreign-Born Population: 1910 to 1940, 1960, and 1970". United States Census Bureau. March 9, 1999. Retrieved August 6, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Lai, H. Mark (2004). Becoming Chinese American: A History of Communities and Institutions. AltaMira Press. ISBN 0-7591-0458-1. 
  7. ^ García, Ofelia; Fishman, Joshua A. (2002). The Multilingual Apple: Languages in New York City. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-017281-X. 
  8. ^ Lai, H. Mark (2004). Becoming Chinese American: A History of Communities and Institutions. AltaMira Press. ISBN 0759104581.  need page number(s)
  9. ^ "Table 5.Detailed List of Languages Spoken at Home for the Population 5 Years and Over by State: 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. February 25, 2003. Retrieved October 3, 2012.