Language diversity in the United States

Cambridge University Press
Published Date: 

What are the most widely spoken non-English languages in the USA? How did they reach the USA? Who speaks them, to whom, and for what purposes? What changes do these languages undergo as they come into contact with English? This book investigates the linguistic diversity of the USA by profiling the twelve most commonly used languages other than English. Each chapter paints a portrait of the history, current demographics, community characteristics, economic status, and language maintenance of each language group, and looks ahead to the future of each language. The book challenges myths about the ‘official' language of the USA, explores the degree to which today's immigrants are learning English and assimilating into the mainstream, and discusses the relationship between linguistic diversity and national unity. Written in a coherent and structured style, Language Diversity in the USA is essential reading for advanced students and researchers in sociolinguistics, bilingualism, and education.


1. Language diversity in the United States: dispelling common myths and appreciating advantages Kim Potowski 
2. Language contact in the United States Suzanne Romaine
3. Native American languages in the United States Teresa L. McCarty
4. Spanish in the United States Kim Potowski and Maria Carreira
5. Chinese in the United States Yun Xiao
6. Tagalog in the United States Elvira C. Fonacier
7. French in the United States Albert Valdman
8. Vietnamese in the United States Carl L. Bankston III and Vy Thuc Dao
9. German in the United States Renate Ludanyi
10. Korean in the United States Hae-Young Kim
11. Russian in the United States Olga E. Kagan and Kathleen Dillon
12. Italian in the United States Anna De Fina and Luciana Fellin
13. Arabic in the United States Sonia Shiri
14. Portuguese in the United States Ana Maria Carvalho
15. Polish in the United States Bożena Nowicka McLees and Katarzyna Dziwirek
16. Language policy in the United States Terrence G. Wiley.

"Data-driven, carefully documented, and well researched, this volume is introduced by Potowski (Univ of Illinois, Chicago) with both a compelling argument for a language-inclusion policy and a neatly organized, comprehensive review of the history of the interplay of linguistics and politics since the first settlement of the linguistically diverse US. These rich essays cumulatively present a comprehensive examination that will serve those interested in linguistics and social sciences, including anthropology, education and public policy. Highly recommended." --Choice