National Data | Tower Of Babel – USA?

In Alien Nation, Peter Brimelow pointed out that in 1990 the Bureau of the Census had reported – for the first time, because the phenomenon was previously unknown – the existence of a significant number of native-born Americans over the age of five who did not speak English “very well.” Brimelow argued this showed that the post-1965 immigration influx was overwhelming the U.S. assimilative mechanism, resulting in foreign-language enclaves.

The 2000 Census shows that this trend is continuing.

The table below divides the U.S. population, aged 5 and more years, into two groups:

 

  • native born (defined as individuals born in the U.S. or born abroad of American parents); and

 

  • foreign born (i.e., all others).

 

Respondents who fill out the “long form” questionnaire are asked if they spoke a language other than English at home. If they did, they were asked to state whether they spoke English “Very Well,” “Well,” “Not Well,” or “Not At All.”

The native-born population over five years of age who did not speak English “very well” rose 40% during the 1990s, reaching 5.6 million.

Language Spoken At Home and Ability to Speak English[Spreadsheet]

U.S. Residents Aged 5 and Older

(Millions)

  1990 2000 % Increase
Total Population 230.5 262.4 13.8%

Speaks Language Other Than English

31.8 47.0 47.8%

Speaks English “Less than very well”

14.0 21.3 52.1%
Native Born 210.7 231.7 10.0%

Speaks Language Other Than English

16.2 21.5 32.7%

Speaks English “Less than very well”

4.0 5.6 40.0%
Foreign Born 19.8 30.7 55.1%

Speaks Language Other Than English

15.6

25.5

63.5%

Speaks English “Less than very well”

10.0

15.7 57.0%

 

Other points to note:

 

  • Deterioration in the foreign-born population`s use of English. The foreign-born increased 57% during the 1990s, reaching 31.1 million in 2000. Of these, 83% reported speaking a language other than English at home – an increase of 63.5%.

 

  • No progress in foreign-born proficiency in English. The number of foreign-born who speak English “Less than very well” increased by 57% between 1990 and 2000. This group accounted for 51.1% of the foreign born in 2000, actually up from 50.5% in 1990.

 

  • Increase in the proportion of U.S. residents speaking foreign languages at home. In 2000, 47 million U.S. residents – 17.9% of the total population – spoke a language other than English at home. This was an increase of 74.8% since 1990.

 

  • Increase in the proportion of the American-born population speaking a foreign language at home. Some 21.5 million native-born Americans – 9.7% of the total population – spoke a language other than English in the home. This was an increase of 32.7%.

 

Of course, many of these American-born users of foreign languages at home are, or claim to be, proficient in English also.

But, increasingly, they just choose not to use it.

Why should they? You think this is America or something?

Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants in Indianapolis.