A PATCHWORK QUILT OF LANGUAGES.

A very nice language map at the Guardian:

The 2011 census reveals the main language spoken in 34,753 ‘output areas’ across England and Wales, each of 1,500 people. While only 0.3% of the population cannot speak English, 4m people do not speak it as their main language. This shows the country’s patchwork quilt of languages.

It seems Polish is now the third language of the UK (after English and Welsh). Thanks, Conrad!

Comments

  1. While only 0.3% of the population cannot speak English, 4m people do not speak it as their main language.
    I found that sentence hard to understand, in particular the position of that “while” and the negation in each clause. After puzzling over it for a while, I concluded it would have made sense more immediately for me in the form: “Only 0.3% of the population cannot speak English at all. 7% of the population speak English as a secondary language.” (It really bugs me when two statistics meant for comparison with each other are stated in incomparable forms – here percent and absolute number – so you have to look up further data and convert.)
    It seems Polish is now the third language of the UK (after English and Welsh).
    Um … The data are only for England and Wales, not for the UK – as far as I can tell. Where did you find the statement about Polish ? Aus der Karte und den Daten werde ich nicht schlau.

  2. marie-lucie says:

    I too had to read the sentence a couple of times to understand it. Even then, it is very misleading, especially if you don’t know the population number for the whole country.
    Is there a full map of the country on that site? I looked up one of the regions, saw a map in colours, apparently showing proportions of non-English speakers, but no explanations. I found trying to navigate the site frustrating.
    Polish as the most common immigrant language was mentioned at least in some of the comments (I only read the first few). Some people also mentioned Rumanian, along with the point that there are more Rumanian immigrants in Spain or France – perhaps because learning the national language is less of a problem for Rumanians in those countries than in England.

  3. I was stunned many years ago to discover that Canadian Ukrainian was the third language of Canada. Now it’s way down on the list of Canadian languages by population, with Punjabi in third place as of 2011. Alas, there’s no data on how many Ukrainiphones speak Canadian Ukrainian as opposed to modern standard Ukrainian.

  4. It looks like Polish is ahead of Welsh too (471 thousand who can speak, read and write).

  5. marie-lucie says:

    JC: There are lots of people of Ukrainian origin in the Prairie provinces, but they are getting more assimilated as the generations change, and they also represent a smaller percentage of the population than more recent immigrants. I would think that Canadian Ukrainian has never been the same as Standard Ukrainian, whatever that is or was, since the immigrants were mostly from rural areas.

  6. with Punjabi in third place as of 2011
    The number of Punjabi speakers on the list is 430,705.
    The list also shows three categories of native Chinese speakers:
    1. Chinese, n.o.s. 425,210
    2. Cantonese 372,460
    3. Mandarin 248,705
    So the number of mother-tongue speakers in Canada of all Chinese languages/dialects is more than one million.
    At a quick perusal, there seem to be about 550,000 people in Canada whose mother tongue hails from the Indian sub-continent.

  7. I raised an eyebrow at the line “The ONS category for ‘English’ includes Welsh in Wales.” Beyond the unintentional humour of that sentence, does anyone have any idea why whoever worked on these statistics would present the data in a way that mingles English and Welsh speakers and does not show numbers for either in Wales?

  8. David Marjanović says:

    I found that sentence hard to understand, in particular the position of that “while” and the negation in each clause.

    I understood it immediately: “Although (/at the same times as) almost everyone can speak English, 4 million people don’t speak it natively.”

    I would think that Canadian Ukrainian has never been the same as Standard Ukrainian, whatever that is or was, since the immigrants were mostly from rural areas.

    As the Wikipedia article says:
    “Canadian Ukrainian was widely spoken from the beginning of Ukrainian settlement in Canada in 1892 until the mid-20th century. Because Ukrainian Canadians are largely descended from emigrants from the Austro-Hungarian provinces of Galicia and Bukovina, where some self-identified as Rusyns or Ruthenians rather than Ukrainians proper, it is most similar to the dialects spoken in these areas, not in the Russian Empire- administered areas where Ukrainian was spoken. As such Canadian Ukrainian contains many more[citation needed] loanwords from Polish, German, and Romanian, and fewer from Russian, than does modern standard Ukrainian, which is mostly based on the dialect spoken in central Ukraine, particularly in the Cherkasy, Poltava and Kiev areas.”
    The text at the bottom looks like exactly halfway between Polish and Russian to me, but I don’t know if modern Standard Ukrainian is any different.

  9. David Marjanović says:

    does anyone have any idea why whoever worked on these statistics would present the data in a way that mingles English and Welsh speakers and does not show numbers for either in Wales?

    To distinguish “native” from “immigrant”?

  10. “So the number of mother-tongue speakers in Canada of all Chinese languages/dialects is more than one million.”
    it could be the 2, 3rd categories are included in the first one as chinese, no?
    and some people can maybe perhaps speak both languages too, there is no rule that someone speaking cantonese shouldnt speak mandarin etc, if there are around half a million indian immigrants in canada i would expect about the same number of the chinese immigrants too, surely the canadian state regulates the numbers some way or other
    i didnt read the link , have like some kind of block when it comes to clicking on the links lately, so dont know maybe they say the numbers don’t overlap, then i take my words back of course

  11. Hey, David (or any other German-speaker): What does “Apprehension” mean in titles like Apprehension: Das sprachliche Erfassen von Gegenständen or Numerus und Nominalaspekt: Eine Studie zur romanischen Apprehension? It’s not in any of my dictionaries.

  12. Aus der Karte und den Daten werde ich nicht schlau.
    This must be a parody or paraphrase or reference, but it’s over my head.

  13. it could be the 2, 3rd categories are included in the first one as chinese, no?
    and some people can maybe perhaps speak both languages too, there is no rule that someone speaking cantonese shouldnt speak mandarin etc

    One presumes that only a single mother-tongue is permissible.
    surely the canadian state regulates the numbers some way or other
    Immigration is indeed regulated, and knowledge of English or French makes an individual more acceptable as an immigrant.

  14. I always feel great apprehension when I try to read German.
    Duden says ‘Apprehension: Erfassung eines Gegenstandes durch die Sinne; Zusammenfassung mannigfaltiger Sinneseindrücke zu einer Vorstellungseinheit.’
    Could the meaning be ‘way in which xxx is apprehended’?
    Not being a German speaker, I can only make a stab in the dark. I wait for the target of Hat’s question to clarify the meaning.

  15. befuggled says:

    Canada uses a point system for immigration. You get so many points for speaking English, so many points for French, so many points for having a career in certain fields, etc. If you end up with enough points, you can apply for permanent residence. I’m a permanent resident in Canada, so I’ve gone through the process.
    Apparently the 2011 census found roughly a million Chinese speakers, but the largest single category of Chinese speakers is “Chinese, not otherwise specified.” Apparently this means a response of just “Chinese” or a non-Chinese language besides Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka and a few others.

  16. oh, okay, if mother-tongue, but at least chinese and cantonese or chinese and mandarin numbers could be interpreted as overlapping, no?
    or is chinese something other than these two languages? do they include all their minorities’ languages into one chinese group? that would seem even more like unscientific, maybe just to count the number of immigrants from china, still strange

  17. I believe that Duden’s sense is Kant‘s. Seiler‘s definition (quoted here):

    Apprehension is the universal operational dimension with corresponding subdimensions which explicate the grasping and representation of concepts corresponding to objects or things by means of language.

  18. Good lord! Ask a simple question, eh, Hat?
    This reminds me of the bit in Wodehouse where Bertie’s fiancee makes him read “Types of Ethical Theory”.

  19. @Ø: Aus der Karte und den Daten werde ich nicht schlau. is nothing special reference-wise. It just means he can’t make heads nor tails of them. The same is true for me by the way.

  20. Apprehension
    The short German WiPe entry summarizes the very little that I happened to know about this technical term of has-been epistemology. Aquinas distinguished four types of apprehensio, Kant bunged them all into one. What they’re unsuccessfully trying to explain is: what, in addition to perception, is needed in order to grasp the idea of something ?
    The German word Apprehension is like the English word “quiddity” – for intellectuals only. I do however find in Grimm several quotes from Göthe [sic] showing that in the 18C Apprehension also could be used with much the same meaning as our English “apprehension”.

  21. Bathrobe: Could the meaning be ‘way in which xxx is apprehended’?
    Yes.

  22. It’s odd that there are so many Poles in Ealing, where Pete Townshend, Ron Wood & Freddie Mercury went to art school. My mother’s gardener had already mentioned it before the census (he lives in Surrey). I’m quite surprised by the number of French speakers (4%) in Kensington & Chelsea. I shall have to revise my prejudices.

  23. My impression walking around London the last few years is that Russian is the third language of the UK, but I suppose a lot of those Russian speakers are not official residents and wouldn’t be captured by the census.

  24. That must be it. I thought they would have been better represented too.

  25. I’m quite surprised that in Lewisham in south London, just down the road from me, the first language after English is French, at 2.01%. As there is a large black population in the borough, I can only imagine that it comes from French-speaking Africans, who list that rather than their Africa mother tongue (which perhaps would simply have come under ‘other’). Though there may be a number of native French speakers in trendy Blackheath, which is part of the borough with good transport to the City, (and has a good French patisserie).
    No mystery about French in Kensington and Chelsea, AJP. The French Lycee in South Ken.
    Which prejudices would those be ?

  26. Sorry, I over-simplified that statistic about Lewisham. At first glance I took it for the entire borough but in fact the break-down is into much smaller sections, (a fact I read but didn’t assimilate properly). French is still more important than I would have thought, though.

  27. Vanya – London is in every respect untypical of the UK. Impressions gained from wandering around London may be correct or otherwise, but you won’t have a clue as to which until you’ve wandered around Derby or Tamworth or Kirkcaldy as well.
    I’m a little suspicious of the data behind this map. It suggests that in our neighbourhood the Polish speaking population is quite large, but the Urdu speaking population is negligible. Experience of living here suggests otherwise.

  28. I was focussed on Notting Hill Gate, where I grew up, but there’s no reason to think that most of the kids at the Lycée live in Kensington & Chelsea.
    My prejudice that French wouldn’t be the second main language of where I grew up, for one thing. I would have said there was far more Russian (on the street, at least).

  29. I’m a little suspicious of the data behind this map. It suggests that in our neighbourhood the Polish speaking population is quite large, but the Urdu speaking population is negligible. Experience of living here suggests otherwise.
    So you’re suggesting what, that the Polish cabal paid off the census workers? I put it to you that people going house to house with questionnaires probably produce a more reliable picture of the neighborhood than your impression based on what you happen to run into as you make your daily rounds.

  30. Why would the Polish cabal (“the” ?) want to create an impression that Polish is spoken in the neighborhood more than it is ? In fact, why would anyone want to speak more Polish than is absolutely necessary ?

  31. “the”?
    Is there ever more than one cabal? What would be the point? Political fronts, lots of those, sure.
    In fact, why would anyone want to speak more Polish than is absolutely necessary?
    Perhaps because it is essentially a light form of Russian that even Germans can understand. (It also holds my personal award for Most Boring Language To Listen To Without Understanding, something I suspect is produced by the combination of fixed penultimate stress and no vowel reduction.)

  32. Is there ever more than one cabal? What would be the point?
    The point would be to intrigue against other cabals. Like the cabal TV networks CNN, FOX etc.

  33. I put it to you that people going house to house with questionnaires probably produce a more reliable picture of the neighborhood than your impression based on what you happen to run into
    Hear, hear. I love finding stuff like this out. What’s the point of letting your prejudices deny the results of a census?
    I’m very pleased the Poles have come to London, by the way and I like their language.

  34. marie-lucie says:

    French in London: It’s a very long time since I was last in London (apart from Heathrow airport), so I don’t have first or even secondhand knowledge of the situation but not too long ago I read an article on French people living in London. It seems that there are many well-educated and trained youngish people who moved from France to England,especially London, in recent years because of the much better job opportunities there.

  35. There are definitely many all over Britain. I was of a recent French promo in Computer Science. For the internship a half of all the students went over to Edinburg, either to more academic labs or to startups.

  36. mollymooly says:

    Apparently the 2011 census found roughly a million Chinese speakers, but the largest single category of Chinese speakers is “Chinese, not otherwise specified.” Apparently this means a response of just “Chinese” or a non-Chinese language besides Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka and a few others.

    I presume you meant “or a Chinese language besides Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka and a few others”? In any case I don’t think that’s the case. The census data distinguishes “n.o.s.” from “n.i.e.”, which I guess are “not otherwise specified” and “not individually enumerated”. There are 441,265 “Chinese, n.o.s.” and 4,525 “Sino-Tibetan languages, n.i.e.”.

  37. Polish was the 2nd-biggest language in Chicago when I was little, so signs said things like “Please don’t lean on the doors” in both english and polish. I was very impressed by the number and placement of z’s, and thoroughly baffled when native polish speakers told me that it was much simpler than english: you just pronounce every letter. I don’t remember when the signs switched to spanish. The 150-year-standing polish immigration to Chicago stopped abruptly when the UK opened up.
    John Cowan – I’ve always thought it’s sort of calming. Probably for the same reasons.
    w/r/t chris y’s comment – Could it be that the Urdu speakers are listing themselves as english-speaking for some reason, or that they simply stand out against the english population more than the polish residents?

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