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9.25.2008

silicon valley hits linguistic milestone

The San Jose Mercury News reports that after decades of immigration from Asia, first a majority of Santa Clara County residents speak a language other than English at home: Majority of Santa Clara County families speak foreign language at home.

According to recently released U.S. Census Bureau data, Santa Clara was one of just ten counties in the U.S. where more than 50 percent of residents speak a foreign language at home. Spanish is the most common foreign language, spoken by about 312,000 people. About 280,000 people speak Chinese, Vietnamese or Tagalog at home.

The change has been steady and consistent. As recently as 1990, less than one-third of South Bay residents spoke a foreign language at home. But by 2000, that number grew to 45 percent, as new arrivals from India, Mexico and China joined earlier immigrants from Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries.

Hold your horses though. That doesn't mean that English is losing ground. The Census data shows that even as the number of Spanish speakers has grown rapidly this decade, 51 percent of Spanish-speakers were also fluent in English in 2007, up from 48.

Yay, immigrants. The days are fading where immigration means denying where you came from, forgetting the language and being ashamed of your culture. Take that, English-only obsessed suckas. You see, it's okay to retain your cultural heritage and first language, while simultaneously learning and interacting with others in English. It can be done!