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Top 10 Languages of North Dakota

Languages of North Dakota

In North Dakota, the most commonly spoken language – by a wide margin – is English. However, that doesn’t mean other languages aren’t used by many of the residents. North Dakota does have a diverse population, including immigrants and indigenous people who speak their native languages.

Often, the languages present in a state are reflective of its history, as well as immigration patterns. Here’s a look at the immigration history of North Dakota, along with the top ten languages of North Dakota other than English.

North Dakota Immigration History

Initially, North Dakota was solely home to the indigenous peoples of North America. In the mid-1700s, European settlers began arriving in the area.

Initially, the fur trade attracted Canadian, English, French, and Scottish traders, as well as people of European descent who had previously settled in other parts of the United States and its territories. By the 1800s, ethnic Germans from Russia also migrated into the region, along with Norwegians.

While much of the population became people of European descent as time passed – including into the 21st century – immigrants from other areas also began arriving. Asians, South Americans, and Middle Easterners have all moved into the region, as well as immigrants from Africa and Americans of African descent.

Top 10 Languages of North Dakota (Other Than English)

North Dakota is home to an estimated 779,261 residents. While the vast majority do speak English, approximately 6.3 percent of people above the age of 4 years old (about 49,093 residents) speak a language other than English when at home.

Further, an estimated 1.48 percent of the population (around 11,533 people) is classified as having limited English proficiency (LEP). As a result, a wide array of languages is spoken by North Dakota residents on a daily basis. Here’s a quick look at the top 10 languages of North Dakota, not including English.

1. Spanish

As is the case in most states, Spanish is the most common non-English language spoken in North Dakota. There are approximately 13,295 Spanish speakers, giving them a population share of about 1.88 percent.

2. German

While not as widely spoken as Spanish, German is the second-most common non-English language in North Dakota. There is an estimated 4,953 German speakers in the state, so they make up a little more than 0.70 percent of the population.

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

Amharic, Somali, and other Afro-Asiatic languages are spoken by around 2,256 North Dakota residents. That gives them a population share of nearly 0.32 percent.

4. French

French (including Cajun) speakers make up a little less than 0.30 percent of the North Dakota population. In total, there are approximately 2,087 French speakers in the state.

5. Nepali, Marathi, or other Indic Languages

Nepali, Marathi, and other Indic languages are spoken by around 1,913 North Dakotans. In turn, they have a population share of a little more than 0.27 percent.

6. Other Native Languages of North America

While a few Native American languages – like Navajo – are calculated separately, the majority of Native American languages aren’t. In total, around 1,767 North Dakota residents speak other Native languages of North America that aren’t assessed individually, giving them a population share of 0.25 percent.

7. Tagalog

In North Dakota, Tagalog (including Filipino) is spoken by approximately 1,762 residents. As a result, Tagalog speakers make up nearly 0.25 percent of the state’s population.

8. Arabic

In North Dakota, about 1,575 residents speak Arabic. That gives them a population share of close to 0.22 percent.

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

Swahili and other Languages of Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa are spoken by around 1,521 North Dakotans, giving them a population share of a little less than 0.22 percent.

10. Chinese

Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin) is spoken by an estimated 1,162 residents of North Dakota. As a result, Chinese speakers make up a bit more than 0.16 percent of the state’s population.


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