Immigrant languages in Ethnologue

More Ethnologue-facts, it seemed relevant.

Ethnologue makes a distinction between languages spoken indigenously in a country and immigrant languages. They define immigrant languages in the following manner:

Immigrant languages. Immigrant languages are categorized as such if they are spoken by relatively recently arrived or transient populations which do not have a well-established, multi-generational community of language users in the country. Population estimates, if known, are shown in parentheses immediately following the language name. These languages do not have a separate language entry in the language listings for the country and are not included in the language counts for the country. Given the transitory nature of these populations and the difficulty in obtaining up-to-date information, this listing may be incomplete. Updated information on immigrant languages is welcomed.

It is not clear to me that any other resource that exists or might come to exist on speaker/signer populations would use this distinction, it seems hard to apply. I'm to go and read Ulrich Ammon's work on statistics of the languages of the world soon, I'll let you know how he deals with the matter. (I'm more keen on how he draws the line between native and non-native speakers (see related post here), but then heritage and immigrant status usually plays in there.)

When you view the list of languages for a country page on Ethnologue, you only see those classified as "indigenous". Same goes for when you go to a language page and see where it's spoken, again only "indigenous". To see the counts of immigrant languages you have to look under the label "immigrant languages" on the front page of the country, or subtract the sum of the populations in countries listed for the language from the total population.

Example: Samoan in New Zealand is classified as an immigrant language. It is not visible in the list of languages for New Zealand, nor in the countries where Samoan is spoken at the language's page. It is however listed at the front page of the New Zealand country page. If we subtract the populations in Samoa + American Samoa from the total speaker population, we find out that the "diaspora" is 157,557. If we look at the front page of New Zealand, we see a count of  86,400 Samoan speakers in the country.

Find any of these classifications problematic? For example: should German, Norwegian and Dutch be indigenous to USA just like Plautdietsch? To complain, go here.

For your entertainment and enlightenment, here is the top-10 countries with most languages spoken as "immigrant".

United States216206
United Kingdom1343
Russian Federation10535

And now I've run out of free views for the month, oh well. Copied and saved down the countries statistics, so I'm good for a while.


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