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Over 800 Languages Are Spoken In NYC, And This Borough Is Its Capital Of Linguistic Diversity

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From “Nonstop Metropolis” by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

The United States is known to many as a melting pot of cultures. Some families practice multiple traditions and speak more than one language.

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With the diversity that exists in the country, over one thousand languages are spoken by its people. One place, in particular, holds the record for the number of languages spoken in a small area.

Over 800 languages are spoken in the city of New York, and there is no higher concentration of languages spoken than in the borough of Queens.

According to “Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas,” the borough can be seen as the ‘capital of linguistic diversity’ for the human race. Contained in Nonstop Metropolis is a detailed map of Queens, citing the languages spoken in each section of the borough.

Between Forest Hills and Astoria, you can find people speaking anything from Russian, Japanese, and Urdu to the more languages like Bukharian.

Created by Molly Roy with help from the Endangered Language Alliance, the map is sometimes limited in its accuracy. The languages appear only once on the map although they are spoken in more areas than indicated.

Although the map does not indicate it, Cantonese is widely spoken in Elmhurst.

Roy’s map shows languages like Korean and Mongolian spoken in Flushing, in addition to a variety of Chinese dialects like Shanghainese, Taishanese, and Sichuanese.

New York City being the first place people saw when immigrating to the United States may have helped them stay, lending their rich culture and language to the borough they chose to live in.

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With all the cultures located in Queens, it would be a real surprise if anybody living there didn’t know at least two or three languages.

Learning a new language takes simple practice, and if you want to immerse yourself in whichever one you are learning, Queens might be a good place to start.

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