As is true in essentially every US state, English is the most widely spoken language in English. However, that doesn’t mean other languages aren’t widely used among residents. Oregon has a diverse population, and many immigrants continue using their primary language after arriving.
In many cases, a state’s immigration and migration patterns reflect the languages spoken in the area. With that in mind, here’s a brief look at Oregon’s immigration history, as well as the top ten languages of Oregon, not including English.
Oregon Immigration History
Initially, Oregon was solely home to indigenous peoples. However, that began to change dramatically starting in the early to mid-1800s. Much of the influx came from Americans originating in the eastern part of the country. Beginning in 1846, the Oregon Trail brought a steady flow of migrants to the region, many of whom were white Americans originating from the Midwest.
During that same period, immigrants from Canada and Russia also became more common. Foreign-born English, Germans, and Scandinavians were also part of the mix, particularly after the 1850s.
However, the population mix began shifting dramatically, particularly since the 1980s. Immigrants from Asia started coming in more significant numbers. Similarly, the Hispanic population grew substantially. However, the population remains primarily of European descent.
Top 10 Languages of Oregon (Other Than English)
Oregon is home to an estimated 4.24 million residents. While the vast majority speak English, around 15.3 percent of persons above the age of 4 (about 648,741 Oregonians) speak a language other than English at home. Additionally, approximately 6.21 percent of the population (around 263,313 residents) have limited English proficiency (LEP). That means a broad array of languages are commonly spoken in Oregon. Here is an overview of the top ten languages of Oregon, not including English.
As is true in the vast majority of US states, Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Oregon after English. It’s used by an estimated 353,257 Oregonians, resulting in a population share of a little less than 8.87 percent.
In Oregon, about 30,809 residents speak Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin). As a result, Chinese speakers make up a bit more than 0.77 percent of the population.
An estimated 27,353 Oregonians speak Vietnamese. That gives them a population share of nearly 0.69 percent.
Just slightly behind Vietnamese on this list is Russian. Approximately 22,754 Oregon residents speak Russian, causing Russian speakers to make up a tad more than 0.57 percent of the population.
German is the fifth most widely used non-English language in Oregon, as it’s spoken by around 14,304 residents. Together, they have a population share just shy of 0.36 percent.
About 12,407 Oregonians speak French (including Cajun). As a result, French speakers make up a little more than 0.31 percent of the population.
In Oregon, approximately 12,236 residents speak Tagalog (including Filipino). That gives them a population share of nearly 0.31 percent.
An estimated 11,061 Oregonians speak Korean. That means Korean speakers make up nearly 0.28 percent of the state’s population.
With approximately 10,493 speakers, Japanese is the ninth most widely used non-English language in Oregon. Collectively, they represent a bit more than 0.26 percent of the population.
Ilocano, Samoan, Hawaiian, and other Austronesian languages are spoken by around 9,810 Oregon residents. That results in a population share of nearly 0.25 percent.
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