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Top 10 Languages of Kentucky

top 10 languages of Kentucky

In Kentucky, English is the most common language spoken by a significant margin. English is actually the state’s official language, though that doesn’t mean other languages aren’t spoken by residents. In many cases, immigrants bring their languages and cultures with them. As a result, many residents use their native languages instead.

In many cases, immigration patterns provide clues about the languages you can expect to find in a state. With that in mind, here’s an overview of the immigration history of Kentucky and the top ten languages of Kentucky besides English.

Kentucky Immigration History

Overall, the majority of the population in Kentucky is of European ancestry at this time. However, originally the area was home to indigenous peoples, including members of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Shawnee tribes. Those populations were largely forced out during the early 19th century.

During the early days of settlement, individuals of English, Scottish, and Irish descent began heading to the region from other states, including Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Maryland. Many headed toward the Bluegrass region because of its agricultural potential.

Africans were also brought into Kentucky as slaves, mainly to support agricultural development. The population of Africans and individuals of African descent was initially large. The numbers shifted downward as legislation impacting the importation of slaves for resale emerged and fell further in the years leading up to the Civil War. However, by the mid-20th century, the population largely stabilized.

More recently, the Hispanic and Asian populations in Kentucky did grow, starting mainly in the late 20th century. However, their populations remain small overall.

Top 10 Languages of Kentucky (Other Than English)

Overall, around 5.9 percent of Kentucky residents above the age of four speak a language other than English at home. Since the total population is estimated at 4.51 million, that calculates out to approximately 266,226 people.

While speaking a different language at home doesn’t mean that most of those residents don’t speak English well, a portion of them don’t. An estimated 2.10 percent of the Kentucky population has limited English proficiency (LEP). In total, that works out to about 94,759 residents.

Since that’s the case, a wide variety of languages are actually spoken in Kentucky. Here’s an overview of the top ten languages of Kentucky, not including English.

1. Spanish

Overall, Spanish is the most common non-English language spoken in Kentucky. However, when compared to other states, the Spanish-speaking population is relatively small. There are an estimated 113,336 speakers, giving them a population share of a bit less than 2.71 percent.

2. German

German comes in behind Spanish on this list, though the difference between the population shares is significant. In total, around 0.31 percent of the population – or about 12,914 residents – speak German.

3. French

Following German on this list is French (including Cajun). There are approximately 9,006 speakers, resulting in a population share that’s just below 0.22 percent.

4. Arabic

In fourth place on this list is Arabic, with a population share of nearly 0.21 percent. In Kentucky, there are an estimated 8,534 Arabic-speaking residents.

5. Chinese

With a population share of 0.19 percent, Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin) rounds out the top five non-English languages spoken in Kentucky. In total, there are about 7,942 Chinese speakers in the state.

6. Yiddish, Pennsylvania Dutch, or other West Germanic Languages

Coming in a little behind Chinese are Yiddish, Pennsylvania Dutch, and other West Germanic language speakers. Approximately 7,678 residents speak these languages, giving them a population share of a little more than 0.18 percent.

7. Swahili or Other Languages of Central, Eastern, & Southern Africa

Swahili and other languages of Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa are in seventh place with a population share of a bit more than 0.13 percent. In total, around 5,498 residents speak these languages.

8. Nepali, Marathi, or Other Indic Languages

Nepali, Marathi, and other Indic languages are in fifth place, with a population share of nearly 0.13 percent. There are an estimated 5,376 speakers in Kentucky.

9. Vietnamese

With a population share of 0.12 percent, Vietnamese is in ninth place. Currently, there are about 5,008 Vietnamese-speaking residents in the state.

10. Amharic, Somali, or Other Afro-Asiatic Languages

Rounding out the top ten languages other than English spoken in Kentucky are Amharic, Somali, and other Afro-Asiatic languages. The estimated 4,543 speakers make up nearly 0.11 percent of the population.

Are You Looking for a Top-Notch Interpreter or Translator?

While English is the official language of Kentucky, and most residents do speak it, many other languages are well represented in the population. As a result, companies often need assistance from language services providers to communicate effectively with the diverse population.

Acutrans is an industry-leading language service provider that can cover over 200 languages. Our on-site, over-the-phone, or video remote interpretation programs can meet a range of interpretation needs. Couple that with our specialty services for the legal and healthcare industries, and companies can get top-tier results.

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