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Language Diversity in the USA


  • 7 b/w illus. 75 tables
  • Page extent: 346 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.56 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521745338)

What are the most widely spoken non-English languages in the USA? How did they reach the USA? Who speaks them, to whom, and for what purposes? What changes do these languages undergo as they come into contact with English? This book investigates the linguistic diversity of the USA by profiling the twelve most commonly used languages other than English. Each chapter paints a portrait of the history, current demographics, community characteristics, economic status, and language maintenance of each language group, and looks ahead to the future of each language. The book challenges myths about the 'official' language of the USA, explores the degree to which today's immigrants are learning English and assimilating into the mainstream, and discusses the relationship between linguistic diversity and national unity. Written in a coherent and structured style, Language Diversity in the USA is essential reading for advanced students and researchers in sociolinguistics, bilingualism, and education.

• The first book to profile the twelve most commonly spoken non-English languages in the USA • Includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter to test and further students' understanding • A media resource list provides recommendations of films and documentaries to give a better understanding of each language community


1. Language diversity in the United States: dispelling common myths and appreciating advantages Kim Potowski with Scott McGinnis; 2. Language contact in the United States Suzanne Romaine; 3. Native American languages in the United States Teresa L. McCarty; 4. Spanish in the United States Kim Potowski and Maria Carreira; 5. Chinese in the United States Yun Xiao; 6. Tagalog in the United States Elvira C. Fonacier; 7. French in the United States Albert Valdman; 8. Vietnamese in the United States Carl L. Bankston III and Vy Thuc Dao; 9. German in the United States Renate Ludanyi; 10. Korean in the United States Hae-Young Kim; 11. Russian in the United States Olga E. Kagan and Kathleen Dillon; 12. Italian in the United States Anna De Fina and Luciana Fellin; 13. Arabic in the United States Sonia Shiri; 14. Portuguese in the United States Ana Maria Carvalho; 15. Polish in the United States Bożena Nowicka McLees and Katarzyna Dziwirek; 16. Language policy in the United States Terrence G. Wiley.


'We come away with a new admiration for the country that has learned to treasure its diversity, for the languages themselves, and for the authors that have so ably brought them together with rich and extensive literature.' Joshua Fishman, Yeshiva University

'Congratulations to Kim Potowski and her contributors. This is a fascinating volume, full of surprises even for longtime scholars in the field. No doubt it will be seen as the definitive work in this area for many years to come.' James Crawford, Institute for Language and Education Policy

'… a welcome addition to the field. While previous research endeavors have illuminated a general idea of the current and past US linguistic landscapes, this volume is innovative in that each chapter addresses both the overall situation and the specifics of the ten most commonly spoken non-English languages in the United States. This comprehensive volume further sets itself apart by its research contributions from top linguistic scholars with expertise in each of the minority languages. In particular, Potowski's introductory chapter successfully addresses the increasingly polemical topic of 'immigrant' languages threatening the hegemony of English and, with it, American national unity. This is especially beneficial and eye-opening to beginning students at a moment when topics such as immigration and immigration reform make the headlines on a daily basis … an exceptional book aimed at educators and students interested in the field of languages in contact.' The Linguist List

'Each chapter provides a wealth of information on a commonly spoken language other than English (LOTE). This information includes demographic information, discussions of language loyalty, the economic status of these groups and the nature of their linguistic communities.' Robert N. St Clair, Language Problems and Language Planning


Kim Potowski, Scott McGinnis, Suzanne Romaine, Teresa L. McCarty, Maria Carreira, Yun Xiao, Elvira C. Fonacier, Albert Valdman, Carl L. Bankston III, Vy Thuc Dao, Renate Ludanyi, Hae-Young Kim, Olga E. Kagan, Kathleen Dillon, Anna De Fina, Luciana Fellin, Sonia Shiri, Ana Maria Carvalho, Bożena Nowicka McLees, Katarzyna Dziwirek, Terrence G. Wiley

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