Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Immigration & Language Diversity in the United States

Daedalus 142, 3 (Summer 2013): 141-154

15 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2013 Last revised: 2 Sep 2013

Rubén G. Rumbaut

University of California, Irvine - Department of Sociology

Douglas S. Massey

Princeton University - Department of Sociology

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

While the United States historically has been a polyglot nation characterized by great linguistic diversity, it has also been a zone of language extinction in which immigrant tongues fade and are replaced by monolingual English within a few generations. In 1910, 10 million people reported a mother tongue other than English, notably German, Italian, Yiddish, and Polish. The subsequent end of mass immigration from Europe led to a waning of language diversity and the most linguistically homogenous era in American history. But the revival of immigration after 1970 propelled the United States back toward its historical norm. By 2010, 60 million people (a fifth of the population) spoke a non-English language, especially Spanish. In this essay, we assess the effect of new waves of immigration on language diversity in the United States, map its evolution demographically and geographically, and consider what linguistic patterns are likely to persist and prevail in the twenty-first century.

Keywords: Immigration, language diversity, linguistic assimilation, bilingualism, Spanish language use

Suggested Citation

Rumbaut, Rubén G. and Massey, Douglas S., Immigration & Language Diversity in the United States (2013). Daedalus 142, 3 (Summer 2013): 141-154 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2293262

Rubén G. Rumbaut (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine - Department of Sociology ( email )

3151 Social Sciences Plaza A
Irvine, CA 92697-5100
United States

Douglas S. Massey

Princeton University - Department of Sociology ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
382
Rank
64,037
Abstract Views
1,921