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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 18,764,213 68.52% 19,014,873 60.52%
Spanish 5,478,712 20.01% 8,105,505 25.80%
Other Indo-European* 1,059,180 3.87% 1,335,332 4.25%
Asian Language** 1,905,985 6.96% 2,709,179 8.62%
Other 175,457 0.64% 251,740 0.80%
Total Population Age 5+ 27,383,547 100.00% 31,416,629 100.00%

Population Speaking English Less Than "Very Well" in 2000
Language Spoken at Home: Number Percent
Spanish 4,303,949 53.10%
Other Indo-European* 453,589 33.97%
Asian Language** 1,438,588 53.10%
Other Language 81,653 32.44%
Total 6,277,779 19.98%

Population Speaking English Less Than "Very Well" in 1990
Language Spoken at Home: Number Percent
Spanish 2,960,128 54.03%
Other Indo-European* 343,196 32.40%
Asian Language** 1,061,519 55.69%
Other Language 57,940 33.02%
Total 4,422,783 16.15%

* "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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