Dozens of languages spoken across East Valley - East Valley Tribune: News

Dozens of languages spoken across East Valley

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Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2004 11:19 pm | Updated: 5:20 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Urdu is spoken here. So are Tagalog, Gujarathi and Laotian.

The East Valley, in fact, is a vivid tapestry of the world’s most familiar, and some of its most exotic, tongues.

That picture emerges from a vast database of languages spoken in virtually every neighborhood in the United States. It is sponsored by the Modern Language Association, a New York City-based academic organization that crunched U.S. Census data gathered in April 2000 to find out who speaks what, and where. The Web site is being made public today.

The data could be a gold mine for marketers and a tool for civic leaders and governments. Beyond that, it paints the East Valley as a multilingual melting pot, broken down ZIP code by ZIP code.

English, of course, is by far the most prevalent language spoken in East Valley homes. Spanish, as you would expect, is second.

Yiddish is quite a bit farther down the list — one of the least-spoken languages in Arizona. If, however, you happen to be one of the two Yiddish-speaking residents of the 85262 ZIP code in north Scottsdale, don’t despair. The rest of Scottsdale has 268 others. And if you feel like taking a drive, Queen Creek has five.

Perhaps the least linguistically diverse of larger East Valley cities is Apache Junction. Of the 40 non-English languages and language groups listed, 20 are not represented there. But if you’re looking for someone in Apache Junction who can order Polish sausage in Polish or French toast in French, you can find 83 who speak the former and 182 the latter.

The most polyglot neighborhood in the East Valley? That’s little surprise: The 85282 ZIP code in Tempe, near Arizona State University.

Within that small area you can hear every language but Armenian and Miao, a tongue of Southeast Asia. A few of the languages are a bit on the rare side, though. See that little group huddled in the corner of the coffee shop? They may be all four people in ZIP code 85282 who speak French Creole — the only four people in all of Tempe who do.

As for Miao, it’s the only language on the list that’s not spoken in a single East Valley home. You can find pockets of Armenian here and there, however, including five in Paradise Valley and 14 in Mesa. Mesa’s Armenian speakers are all bunched in the city’s north-central 85213 ZIP code.

If the East Valley is beginning to sound like lobby conversation at the United Nations, that’s just a reflection of what’s happening all over the country, said Rosemary G. Feal, the executive director of the Modern Language Association.

‘‘So often, when we think of languages and cultures that are not Anglophone America, we think of the world out there — foreign,’’ she said. ‘‘We don’t necessarily realize how, in our own American globalized society, we’ve got all these linguistic resources woven into the fabric.’’

That should give some comfort to the one lonely soul in Scottsdale’s 85262 ZIP code who speaks an unspecified Slavic language.

Take heart. You’ll likely have company soon.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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