Website provides detailed look at language use

There are nine speakers of Navajo in Maine. Alaska and Arizona have the most speakers of Native languages than any other state. And more people speak Native languages than Hebrew.

These are some of the interesting bits of information found at a new website that maps language use in the United States. Based on data from the most recent Census, the Modern Language Association (MLA) has created a tool that give surfers a graphical look at 37 languages and language groups.

With a few clicks of the mouse, the Language Map Data Center ( creates maps detailing where and how many people speak a particular language. The maps can be focused by state, county and even zip code, and for those seeking the raw data, there's a tool that spits out information in table form.

The site groups 160 Native languages into one category so it's not possible, for now, to find out how many people speak Cherokee. People curious about that statistic can turn to the U.S. Census Bureau. The agency has compiled a two-volume report ( that breaks down tribal affiliation and language use.

But the MLA site does include data on the use of Navajo because it is one of the more commonly spoken languages in the country. Not surprisingly, the map shows that most speakers of Dineh live in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the three states where the Navajo Nation is located.

At 178,014 speakers, more people speak Navajo than Scandinavian languages, Thai or Hungarian. And it is pervasive -- every state, plus Puerto Rico (7) the District of Columbia (4), has people who use Navajo.

Even without detailed information on other Native languages, the MLA site still provides invaluable statistics. According to the site, the top 10 states where most Native speakers live are the following:
  1. Alaska - 30,121
  2. Arizona - 30,109
  3. New Mexico - 26,880
  4. Oklahoma - 18,871
  5. South Dakota - 11,246
  6. Montana - 9,234
  7. California - 6,729
  8. Minnesota - 5,862
  9. Mississippi - 5,654
  10. Wisconsin - 4,210
According to the data, there are 203,466 people who speak Native languages. If Navajo is added to this number, more people use Native languages than Greek, Hindi, Armenian or Hebrew.

In Alaska, Native languages are the second most commonly-used in the state. Alaska Natives make up about 16 percent of the population.

In Arizona, Navajo is the third most commonly-used language after English and Spanish. The state's Native population is about 6 percent.

Going by age, the data shows that most speakers of Native languages are adults over the age of 18. Most language experts say fewer and fewer young people are learning their tribal languages.

Easy to Use Tables:
Native Language Speakers by State | Navajo Speakers by State | All Languages in U.S.

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