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The Census asks questions about language use at home to locate groups of people who speak a language other than English. Their isolation or integration into a primarily English speaking community can be determined by their ability to speak English proficiently.

Language Spoken at Home, 1990-2000
1990 2000
Number Percent Number Percent
Only English 198,600,798 86.18% 215,423,557 82.11%
Spanish 17,345,064 7.53% 28,101,052 10.71%
Other Indo-European* 8,790,133 3.81% 10,017,989 3.82%
Asian Language** 4,471,621 1.94% 6,960,065 2.65%
Other 1,238,161 0.54% 1,872,489 0.71%
Total Population Age 5+ 230,445,777 100.00% 262,375,152 100.00%

Population Speaking English Less Than "Very Well" in 2000
Language Spoken at Home: Number Percent
Spanish 13,751,256 48.94%
Other Indo-European* 3,390,301 33.84%
Asian Language** 3,590,024 51.58%
Other Language 588,826 31.45%
Total 21,320,407 8.13%

Population Speaking English Less Than "Very Well" in 1990
Language Spoken at Home: Number Percent
Spanish 8,309,995 47.91%
Other Indo-European* 2,844,409 32.36%
Asian Language** 2,420,355 54.13%
Other Language 407,743 32.93%
Total 13,982,502 6.07%

* "Other Indo-European" excludes English and Spanish. "Indo-European" is not synonymous with "European." French, German, Hindi, and Persian are all classified as Indo-European. Hungarian, on the other hand, is lumped into "Other Language."

** "Asian Language" includes languages indigenous to Asia and Pacific islands areas that are not also Indo-European languages. Chinese, Japanese, Telugu, and Hawaiian are all classified here.

Also note that ability to speak English "very well" is based on the self-assessment of those responding to Census questions, not on a test of language ability.

Source: Census 2000 analyzed by the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN).

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