Enadu, Telugu becomes the Highest growing Foreign Language in US!
Enadu, Telugu becomes the Highest growing Foreign Language in US! | Credit: Jagran Josh

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Enadu, Telugu becomes the Highest growing Foreign Language in US!

Oct 22, 2018

elugu is the fastest growing language in the US, says a study by an American think-tank. The study on languages spoken in the US used data from the American Community Survey and compared the number of people who said they spoke a language other than English at home in 2010 and 2017, the BBC said. The study by the US-based Centre for Immigration analysed census data to look at the pace at which languages were being spoken in America. There are an estimated 6000 to 7000 languages in the world, creating a breathtaking diversity of dialects. Many people think English is the world’s most-spoken language, as it is widely learnt as a second language. But this study has changed the view of people on languages that are spoken widely.

Between 2010 and 2017, the number of native Telugu speakers in the US surged 86%—the largest uptick in a foreign language-speaking group—the results of a September 2018 study by Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) show. This was the highest jump among the most widely spoken foreign languages in the country, among those that had over 400,000 people speaking it. Last year there were more than 400,000 Telugu speakers in the US - nearly double the number in 2010. Out of the top 10 fastest-growing languages in America, seven are from South Asia. Of the more than 60 million people that speak a language other than English out of the total population of about 320 million, the vast majority speak Spanish. 

The rise of Telugu was connected to the links forged between Hyderabad and the US engineering and technology industries, Prasad Kunisetty, founder of the Telugu People Foundation, a non-profit organisation in the US, was quoted as saying. 

Down the years, Telugu-speaking Americans have continued to hire software engineers from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the BBC said. The rapid growth of IT in the mid-1990s led to a huge demand for software engineers. Many were recruited from Hyderabad, which sends students to the US in large numbers. 

Even outside the nine-to-five software jobs, second-generation Telugu families are making a mark. Nina Davuluri, who became the first Indian-American to be crowned Miss America in 2013, has roots in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. She is the daughter of Telugu-speaking doctors who migrated to the US in the 1980s. Telugu students have repeatedly won spelling bee competitions, including the top spot at the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee. Notable US-based Telugu speakers include the first Indian-American Miss America Nina Davuluri and the current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

A slew of Telugu workers in the US has been shot dead in various incidents, from hate crimes to robbery attempts. On the other hand, assimilation attempts are also prevalent. Community associations such as the California-based University of Silicon Andhra offer dance and music schools to impart traditional culture and arts. Even some mainstream college campuses are dedicating resources to explore the community’s heritage.

In the face of the US becoming home for more and more Indian immigrants, Telugu is only one of the many languages from the country gaining popularity. Others, such as Bengali and Tamil speakers, have smaller populations of around 350,000 and 280,000 respectively, but they were still among the fastest-growing ones. The former logged a 57% increase while the latter, 55%.

Telugu may have grown at a higher pace but Hindi remains the most widely spoken Indian language in the US. Though, at 863,000, it is dwarfed by the 41 million speakers of Spanish. Overall, 21.8% of the US population speaks a foreign language at home, CIS said. In the country’s five largest cities, this share goes up steeply to nearly half of the residents.

India, ironically, is home to about four times more English speakers than the US.