There are more languages spoken in this place in the United States than anywhere else.

How many languages do you speak? The Factionary speaks quite a lot. It doesn’t matter whatever language you’re reading this in. You may have heard some languages been spoken in your community; and was your neighborhood bilingual, multilingual, or you just had one language to babble all your thoughts? There’s a place in the United States that’s home to hundreds of languages that are been spoken at any given moment. Dear friends, welcome to the borough of Queens in New York City — the language capital of the world.

Related media: Queenborough Harbor 2017


This Is The Language Capital

According to the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA, oh yes, there’s such a thing like that), one area in a United States state is probably home to more languages than any single place on Earth. Its estimated that there are 800 languages spoken throughout the city of New York, but the borough of Queens is the language capital of the world. That borough alone is home to a staggering 138 unique spoken languages. As a matter of fact, you’re more likely going to hear really obscure languages in Queens than you are to hear elsewhere, say even the language’s home country.

“It is the capital of language density in the world,” Daniel Kaufman, an adjunct professor of linguistics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, told the New York Times. “We’re sitting in an endangerment hot spot where we are surrounded by languages that are not going to be around even in 20 or 30 years.”

(You can see a comprehensive language map of Queens right here, created by Molly Roy with help from the ELA).


Why So Many Languages?

The intriguing fact here is this: Queens borough is only an area of a mere 280 square kilometers (108 square miles), so all these multicultural languages are spoken within such a close proximity. How is that even possible? New York City serves as the doormat of the United States, the city’s geographic location makes it the convenient first point of call for most immigrants; and if New York is seen as the capital of the world, no wonder the language capital of the world is also at New York. Let’s give it up for New York City.

Here’s a brief list of languages you’re to hear in Queens borough:

English (obviously), French, Spanish, Deutsche, Dutch, Greek, Filipino, Urdu, Indonesian, Russian, Japanese, Mandarin, Lithuanian, Croatian, Nepali, Sherpa, Gurung, Mustang, Finnish, Latvian, Chavacano, Waray-Waray, Minangkabau, Bukharian, and many, many more.


The Holy Grail Of Multilingualism

This doesn’t mean everyone is walking around in Queens babbling fluently in five languages. According to the 2015 Census data, 44 percent of the population, 5 years and older in Queens spoke at least one language at home, whereas the 56 percent spoke a language other than English. However, if you’re looking forward to learning a new language, studies have proven that spaced-repetition could help you learn new languages much more faster than other techniques.

And who knows, you may become a polyglot, or even a hyper-polyglot  — that’s the fancy vocabulary that describes extraordinarily language learners who possess fluency in many languages. You might even become the first mayor of Queens borough one day. So why don’t you head to Queens and get all that inspiration you need to make it a reality. Good luck!


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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Mon, Jul 22, 2019.

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