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Main Languages of the United States

Try to name the languages with the most speakers in the United States.
Source: U.S. Census, 2017 data
Languages spoken at home. Sign language is not counted
Some languages grouped together becauses that's how the data was presented
Quiz by jess1769
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Last updated: July 1, 2019
First submittedJuly 12, 2012
Times taken81,480
Rating4.52
6:00
Enter language here:
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 / 26 guessed
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# Speakers
Language
239 m
English
41.0 m
Spanish
3.46 m
Chinese
1.75 m
Tagalog
1.50 m
Vietnamese
1.23 m
Arabic
1.20 m
French
1.10 m
Korean
936 k
Russian
# Speakers
Language
918 k
German
887 k
French Creole
(Haitian)
863 k
Hindi
795 k
Portuguese
567 k
Italian
541 k
Yoruba / Igbo
526 k
Amharic / Somali
520 k
Polish
507 k
Urdu
# Speakers
Language
467 k
Japanese
459 k
Samoan / Hawaiian
434 k
Gujarati
433 k
Nepali / Marathi
420 k
Persian
415 k
Telugu
364 k
Yiddish / Pennsylvania Dutch
351 k
Bengali
+22
level 50
Aug 23, 2012
You'd think that gibberish and l33t would make it on here.
+6
level 57
Nov 7, 2018
Lol my first guess was American
+4
level 53
Aug 23, 2012
Showing my ignorance here but where is Tagalog from? Good quiz but didn't do that well!
+6
level 29
Aug 23, 2012
It's from the Philippines
+3
level 36
Aug 23, 2012
It's the language of the Philippines and is also known as Filipino.
+3
level 76
Feb 8, 2016
"Also known as Filipino". And yet Filipino isn't accepted.
+3
level 77
Jan 18, 2013
It's a language widely spoken in Luzon, the largest island of the Philippines. It was declared one of the official languages of the country by the Spanish, and still is along with English. It is also widely spoken and understood in other parts of the country.
+1
level 77
Jun 24, 2016
Though officially the national language of the Philippines is "Filipino," realistically this is the same language as Tagalog.
+2
level 28
May 20, 2017
If I remember right about the new description of filipino, it can mean any languange in the philippines. Tagalog is the only "filipino language" that most americans can speak. Im bad at explaining but yeah ahahahhahahhah
+1
level 77
Jul 2, 2019
That might be how the US Census defines it? But in the Philippines, anyway, Filipino is a specific language and it is essentially identical to Tagalog. But they call it Filipino because it's the official language of the whole country and they didn't want to broadcast their favoritism to Luzon.
+1
level 44
Jun 19, 2013
It is also spoken in Guam, which is a U.S. territory, which probably bumps the number up a bit.
+1
level 44
Nov 21, 2014
It is not spoken in Guam that much. It is not even an Official language.
+2
level 82
Feb 1, 2015
What is that supposed to mean? English isn't an official language in the U.S. (there is no official language) and it's still spoken by quite a few.
+3
level 44
Mar 6, 2015
(Sillie) The Official languages of Guam are Chamorro and English.
+2
level 82
Mar 6, 2015
Interesting. The US doesn't have an official language, but a territory has. Thanks.
+5
level 29
Mar 6, 2015
The US doesn't have an official language on a federal level (law only states that English is the language of administration), but states can have them, and about half of them have declared English official, with some of them having additional languaes (Spanish for New Mexico, French for Louisiana, Hawaiian for Hawaii if I remember well). Half of the states have no official language whatsoever.
+1
level 74
Oct 4, 2016
I would argue that English is de facto official language of USA
+3
level 77
Oct 26, 2017
I don't think that common usage makes something "official," de facto or not.
+3
level 74
Jul 1, 2019
Not common, but official / government usage. In how many languages are the laws or Supreme Court decisions usually published? Can you sue your Chinatown neighbour in Cantonese?
+3
level 76
Jul 1, 2019
Officially de facto? Jumbo shrimp? Military intelligence?
+2
level 29
Aug 23, 2012
Parsi for Persian?
+2
level 34
Aug 24, 2012
it lets you type Farsi...
+6
level 38
Aug 28, 2012
Parsi is a certain group of people. Farsi is a language. So Farsi is accepted and Parsi is not. Sorry.
+1
level 70
Dec 11, 2012
I think Iranians can use either Parsi or Farsi when describing the language. Someone I know from Iran used Parsi to describe the language, but I can't remember why she said she used Parsi instead of Farsi.
+1
level 67
Mar 6, 2015
Parsi was originally the name of the language, but Farsi became a popular term under heavy long-lasting influence from Arabic, which has no P sound.
+2
level 54
Mar 17, 2015
I actually input "Dari" and it replaced it with "Persian," which I could have sworn was a discrete language...
+2
level 59
Apr 13, 2016
I got Persian by typing in Tajik.
+1
level 77
Jun 24, 2016
Dari is spoken by Persians from Afghanistan/Pakistan, I think. Basically the same as Persian. I met some refugees from that area at a park in Athens. We used Persian in Google Translate and understood each other fine.
+1
level 74
Oct 4, 2016
I had a Persian interpreter for Afghani refugees, though he told me to put down as their language "Farsi (Dari)"
+1
level 21
Aug 29, 2012
The only one I didn't get was Arabic. :(
+2
level 44
Jan 20, 2013
Not being too familiar with either - how much of a difference is there between "French" and "French Creole"?
+3
level 55
Jun 1, 2019
the Creoles based on French, like Haitian Creole for example, are very different from French and cannot be understood by a French speaker.
+1
level 76
Jul 1, 2019
Depends on the French speaker. A lot can be understood once you get the hang of the pronunciation differences. And the grammar is easy to relate to. But yes, the languages are different and there's a lot of vocabulary unfamiliar to a French speaker, not to mention that the French Haitian Creole developed from is 18th century French so developed differently from France-French. I haven't been to Haiti yet but I had a pretty good time in Louisiana trying to get the hang of Creole there -- fascinating and challenging.
+1
level 38
Aug 18, 2019
Africanized french.
+1
level 57
Apr 30, 2013
i typed hindu, instead of hindi
+1
level 62
Jul 9, 2019
Same!! I think i allways do that...
+1
level 9
Jul 17, 2013
just quite frankly all i did was name a language
+6
level 67
Dec 21, 2016
Well that was the idea of the quiz really.
+4
level 56
Oct 26, 2017
Only one language?
+2
level 73
Jul 28, 2018
I hope the one you remembered was English.
+1
level 50
Aug 6, 2013
Good quiz. Some surprises.
+2
level 42
Jun 11, 2014
Surprised Nahuatl isn't on the list considering how many people in Mexico speak it.
+3
level 66
Mar 6, 2015
This is a Main Languages of the US, not Mexico...
+4
level 52
Dec 21, 2016
But languages can spread across borders (especially when there is a high level of trade across a border)
+2
level 58
Aug 19, 2018
@MyMindWentBlank According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahuatl#Demography_and_distribution), there are about 1.5 million Nahuatl speakers in Mexico, and most are in south & central regions. There probably are some speakers in the US but not hundreds of thousands as would be required to show up on this quiz.
+1
level 65
Nov 16, 2018
I used to teach English to newcomer children in the LA area, and received several students from Mexico who spoke Nahuatl but not a word of Spanish. But it is definitely not common, not compared to the other languages on this list.
+1
level 19
Aug 31, 2017
Since Spanish is much more largely spoken, I think most Americans wouldn't bother to learn tiny languages. Thus, Spanish spreads more easily.
+1
level 68
Oct 26, 2017
Fun fact is that the city with the second highest population of Nahuatl speakers is New York because most speakers are rural or from Mexico City.
+2
level 50
Aug 25, 2014
More than half a million Portuguese speakers! And I believe there are more! Viva!
+1
level 36
Sep 16, 2014
Missed Vietnamese....
+5
level 31
Nov 22, 2014
That's funny because I have never yet heard an American that speaks real English ;)
+5
level ∞
Jan 23, 2015
One might say it's the British who have been ruining English!

http://www.pbs.org/speak/ahead/change/ruining/

+2
level 77
Mar 7, 2015
+2
level 54
Mar 17, 2015
Shots fired! :-P
+1
level 49
Feb 16, 2016
BOOM!!
+1
level 43
Dec 2, 2014
Really? That many people didn't get most? There's quite a few big languages here, and think of US history, or world history in general
+1
level 73
Mar 6, 2015
go figure..i get hmong, but couldn't come up with vietnamese
+1
level 70
Mar 6, 2015
Got them all, but that was hard.
+1
level 43
Mar 6, 2015
Hmmm... missed Italian, Korean
+2
level 7
Mar 6, 2015
in history the dutch owned parts of America so i thought people would be talkin dutch
+2
level 77
Mar 6, 2015
That was a long long time ago. There are still a few Dutch Amish communities. Their numbers are tiny, though.
+4
level 53
Mar 8, 2015
The Dutch of the Amish is Low German rather than Dutch. There has been a large number of Dutch immigrants to the US, but their descendants aren't Dutch speaking any more.
+1
level 77
Sep 27, 2017
cool didn't know that. Maybe I should have guessed from watching The Office.
+1
level 78
Oct 26, 2017
I'm a child of Dutch immigrants and I still speak it. It's actually quite well known in the areas where the Dutch settled. Northern NJ, Michigan, Iowa...
+1
level 58
Aug 19, 2018
Dutch speakers were very prominent in Early American history, especially in New York and the Mid-Atlantic areas (you can still see the influence on place names). The Dutch language persisted in New York for over a century after the English took over the Dutch colonies there -- our only President who didn't speak English as his mother tongue, Martin van Buren, was from a Dutch speaking New York family. I'm pretty sure Dutch-American community he came from switched entirely to English sometime in the last two centuries though, and while we continue to have significant Dutch immigration the numbers dropped off a lot in the 20th century. Dutch speakers in the US like Qikiq probably number in the tens of thousands.
+1
level 55
Jul 8, 2019
The historical New Netherlands was not monolinguistic, many of the first settlers were from the Low Countries, but French speakers (from southern Belgium/North of France), often refugees from the religious wars. They had less objections to migration, the Dutch struggled to find enough people willing to migrate to the New World. The colony existed for roughly 50 years and by that time over half of it's population spoke English. People still kept speaking Dutch for a while but it faded out over time, with less contact with the old mother country, education and transportation making it more difficult to only rely on Dutch if you wanted to make a career like Maarten Van Buren did...
+3
level 43
Oct 29, 2017
Pennsylvania Dutch is a form of High German from the Upper Rhine, so I expect it's lumped in with German, here. It should not be; it's really a separate language. The English word "Dutch" used to refer to any Germanic people or language, so although it's confusing, it's not a misnomer. 400,000 people speak it, and it's growing. (Mir schwetze noch die Mudderschprooch!)
+1
level 62
Jan 13, 2019
if it is 400k it should be on the list ( i expected it to be there actually, but havent researched it yet, might do so later)
+2
level 62
Jan 13, 2019
Ok according to the source used for this quiz ( mind you data till 2013) pennsylvanian dutch had 133k speakers. (which is like said above more like german (deutsch) and has nothing to do with dutch. Which is spoken slightly more but still not enought on make this list 142k)
+2
level 60
Mar 6, 2015
Certainly Ebonics, if treated as an actual official language, would be somehwhere around #3-4 on this list.
+1
level 38
Dec 2, 2017
Ebonics? - I hope that's a joke!
+5
level 55
Jun 1, 2019
African American Vernacular English is what it's called. it's not a distinct language from English, rather a sociolect.
+1
level 53
Mar 8, 2015
Given that the French creole is probably mostly Haitian, could I have that name as an alternative?
+1
level ∞
Jul 1, 2019
Yes
+2
level 46
Sep 27, 2017
Really surprised to not see Yiddish on here. ... maybe update in 3-5 more years.
+1
level 56
Oct 26, 2017
Updating the quiz is not going to affect whether Yiddish appears on the quiz or not - numbers of speakers are decreasing over time - speakers of the language are mostly elderly now and few are passing it on to the younger generations in the US. The language is also endangered globally.
+1
level 62
Oct 26, 2017
It's actually increasing. In a few years it will probably make the list.
+4
level ∞
Jul 1, 2019
For some reason the Census now groups Pennsylvania Dutch together with Yiddish. I imagine that both languages are growing rapidly due to astronomical birth rates in Amish and Hasidic communities.
+1
level 51
Oct 26, 2017
Eh, I was pretty sure Ashkenazi is here
+6
level 56
Oct 26, 2017
There's no language called Ashkenazi. Most Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish
+5
level 56
Oct 26, 2017
What about sign language (ASL) approximately "spoken" by 500k people?
+2
level 80
Oct 26, 2017
Silly rabbit, tricks are for kids.
+11
level 63
Oct 26, 2017
No C# or Python?
+3
level 55
Oct 26, 2017
I see that there are no native american languages listed. maybe the numbers are too small, but it does seem odd not to have some of them on the list.
+2
level ∞
Oct 27, 2017
Why would we add them to the list when there are too few speakers to qualify?
+6
level 55
Oct 29, 2017
I guess I meant to say sad, not odd. Sad that what once were the dominant languages on the continent are not long spoken by the majority of people.
+1
level 40
Oct 29, 2017
LOL!
+1
level 40
Oct 29, 2017
Great quiz! You want to, say, Tagolog?
+2
level 75
Nov 23, 2017
No Quenya?
+1
level 62
Sep 30, 2018
Never heard of Quenya, and I know lots of languages.
+1
level 41
Aug 18, 2019
it's one of the elvish languages created by Tolkien for Middle earth :)
+1
level 69
Mar 18, 2018
I was surprised Tamil didn't make it, but perhaps the US has gotten less of the Tamil diaspora than we have here in Australia. I s'pose proximity counts for something.
+1
level 14
May 24, 2018
Accept French for French Creole as I don't even know what Creole is and then it will give you two answers for one input
+3
level 63
Aug 21, 2018
Someone who speaks French isn't very likely to understand someone speaking French Creole. Look up Pidgin English on YouTube and tell me if that's the same thing as the English you and I speak. You'll might catch some words and phrases but that's gonna be about it.
+1
level 73
Jun 28, 2018
Thank God Lolcat has died out.
+1
level 62
Jan 13, 2019
I is happy :)
+1
level 71
Jul 4, 2019
Also, Doge! Such funny. Much delightful. So lamenting.
+1
level 21
Jul 14, 2018
How about 'ASL' or 'American Sign Language'
+1
level 36
Aug 17, 2018
Did you know that there are over five languages in this world
+3
level 62
Sep 30, 2018
Yeah. Actually, I know the names of even more than five.
+1
level 21
Dec 22, 2018
Maybe accept Cajun for french creole, or would that be too far of a stretch?
+1
level 76
Jul 1, 2019
No, they're different.
+1
level 76
Jul 2, 2019
Cajun French is a dialect of French that comes from Acadian French. Creoles are an entirely different set of languages. It's likely that the majority of French Creole speakers here are Haitian, but Louisiana Creole is a different language again that is often referred to as just 'Creole', and which is different from Cajun.
+2
level 78
Apr 5, 2019
Navajo?
+8
level ∞
Jul 1, 2019
Navano.
+1
level 53
Apr 21, 2019
No way buddy, I speak American
+2
level 74
Jul 1, 2019
Please accept Nepalese for Nepali
+1
level 77
Jul 1, 2019
Why no credit for Farsi?
+2
level ∞
Jul 1, 2019
Farsi will work now
+5
level 69
Jul 1, 2019
I understand some of the other groupings, but why on earth is Marathi grouped with Nepali? They may as well have grouped German and French together.
+5
level ∞
Jul 1, 2019
I don't know. Why did they group Yiddish with Pennsylvania Dutch? It doesn't make sense and I wish they hadn't done it.
+3
level 72
Jul 1, 2019
I take it you don't have the Hasidic Amish in your part of the US?
+1
level 69
Jul 1, 2019
That one seemed bizarre to me too, but I didn't know enough about either language to confidently call it out. Weird choices.
+2
level ∞
Jul 3, 2019
Throw all the old-timey religious people together I guess?
+1
level 37
Jul 2, 2019
Others have commented this already, but I'm joining in: Why no sign language? Do you think it's not a language?
+1
level ∞
Jul 3, 2019
Yo dawg. We get the data from the Census Bureau. What I think has nothing to do with it.
+1
level 73
Aug 21, 2019
Arf.
+2
level 61
Jul 4, 2019
Interesting. I'm surprised Punjabi isn't here, in Canada Punjabi is the most spoken language from the Subcontinent by far!
+1
level 17
Aug 18, 2019
xd more people speak igbo than polish
+1
level 49
Aug 18, 2019
Polynesian for Samoan/Hawaiian?
+1
level 66
Aug 18, 2019
*sigh* I didn't try Hawaiian simply because I was thinking there's no way there are more than 300 000 speakers.
+2
level 47
Aug 18, 2019
How in the world did I get Amharic, but forget Russian and Italian...
+1
level 52
Aug 18, 2019
Ridiculous. Hindi and Urdu are counted separately, French and Haitian creole are counted separately, but Igbo and Yoruba are counted together? Igbo and Yoruba are definitely separate languages, not dialects of each other.
+1
level 50
Aug 18, 2019
Marathi and Nepali are completely different languages and should not be grouped together.
+1
level 52
Aug 19, 2019
Could you do one for Australia, if you have the data? The same languages are likely to be on there, but in a completely different order - the difference would be quite extraordinary.
+1
level 38
Aug 19, 2019
Pretty sure Pennsylvania Dutch is a group of people, while Yiddish is a language (typically not spoked by Pennsylvanian Dutch unless their Jewish)
+1
level 29
Aug 22, 2019
American census groupings make no sense to me.