LANGUAGES OF CALIFORNIA

As of 2009, 57.59% of California residents age five and older spoke English as a first language at home, while 28.21% spoke Spanish. In addition to English and Spanish, 2.04% spoke Filipino, 1.59% spoke Chinese (which included Cantonese [0.63%] and Mandarin [0.43%]), 1.4% spoke Vietnamese, and 1.05% spoke Korean as their mother tongue. In total, 42.4% of the population spoke languages other than English. Over 200 languages are known to be spoken and read in California. Including indigenous languages, California is viewed as one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world (the indigenous languages were derived from 64 root languages in 6 language families). About half of the indigenous languages are no longer spoken, and all of California's living indigenous languages are endangered and there are some efforts toward language revitalization.

The official language of California has been English since the passage of Proposition 63 in 1986. However, many state, city, and local government agencies still continue to print official public documents in numerous languages.

Luciano Mende

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