Hindi Most Spoken Indian Language in U.S.; Number of Telugu, Gujarati Speakers Rises

Hindi remains the most spoken Indian language in the United States, followed by Gujarati and Telugu.


Hindi continues to remain the most widely spoken Indian language in the United States, followed closely by Gujarati and Telugu, according to the American Community Data, released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Sept. 20. 

However, in terms of percentage increase, the number of Telugu speakers rose the highest, at 87 percent, when the data of 2010 is compared with 2017. 

The newly released figures show that a record 66.6. million U.S. residents, including native born, legal and illegal immigrants, aged five and older, spoke a language other than English at home. The number of non-English speakers has more than doubled since 1990, and almost tripled since 1980. 

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which analyzed and compared the 2010 data with 2017 data, said that of languages with more than 400,000 speakers in 2017, the largest percentage increases from 2010 to 2017 were among speakers of Telugu (up 86 percent); Hindi and Arabic (up 42 percent); Urdu (up 30 percent); Chinese (up 23 percent); and Gujarati (up 22 percent).  A major factor for the massive rise of Telugu-speaking population is the arrival of IT professionals on H-1B visa in the United States, many of whom hail from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states.  

Breaking down the numbers further, the survey said the largest numerical increases from 2010 to 2017 were among speakers of Spanish (up four million); Chinese (up 653,000); Arabic (up 363,000); Hindi (up 254,000); Telugu (up 192,000); Tagalog (up 173,000); Haitian Creole (up 140,000); Bengali (up 128,000); Urdu (up 118,000); and Vietnamese (up 117,000). 

There were 87,543 Telugu speakers in the United States in the year 2000, which increased to 222,977 in 2010. By 2017, Telugu was spoken by 415,414 immigrants in the country. Likewise, in 2000, the number of Hindi speakers was 317,057, which rose to 609,395 in 2010 and 863,077 in 2017. The number of Gujarati speakers was 235,988 in 2000, which increased to 356,394 by 2010 and 434,264 in 2017.

The list also includes Tamil, Bengali, and Urdu speakers, but it’s difficult to tell how many of them are Indians because these languages are also spoken by a large number of people outside India. Tamil is spoken in Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia. Bengali is the national language of Bangladesh, while Urdu is the national language of Pakistan.

In America’s five largest cities, 48 percent of residents now speak a language other than English at home. In New York City and Houston, the corresponding figure is 49 percent; as compared to 59 percent in Los Angeles, 36 percent in Chicago; and 38 percent in Phoenix. However, the situation is quite opposite in rural areas outside of metropolitan areas, where only 8 percent speak a language other than English at home. 

The recent census figures showed that over 50,000 Indians became naturalized American citizens in 2017. Between 2010 and 2017, over 800,000 Indians arrived in the United States, the highest among all countries. 

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