Significant portions of the American populace, at least 11.5%, speak Spanish as their primary language. The proportion is growing steadily. The Spanish these people speak is not just a single language or dialect, but a reflection of the entire Spanish-speaking world. Among Spanish speakers, the language spoken by Chicanos of Mexican background in Texas differs widely from the Spanish spoken by Puerto Ricans in New York or Cubans in Miami.
Although strongest in the southwest region from Texas to Southern California, Mexican Spanish is the most widely distributed dialect in the United States. Cuban Spanish predominates in South Florida and New Jersey. Puerto Rican Spanish is strong in large northeastern cities like New York, Philadelphia and Boston, as is Dominican Spanish. In parts of New Mexico and southern Colorado, an archaic form of Spanish dating back to the 16th and 17th century survives in isolated rural communities. Among Central American dialects, Salvadoran, Honduran, and Nicaraguan Spanish are spoken in a number of communities. South American dialects are lesss widespread.
The Spanish language coincides roughly with the ethnic group called “Hispanic,” although some of these people are primarily English speakers. In commercial and economic terms, the Spanish-speaking market in the United States is second only to that of Mexico, ahead of Spain itself. The state of New Mexico, with 43 per cent, has the greatest proportion of Spanish speakers. Florida, California, Texas and New York have the greatest numbers. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is primarily Spanish speaking.
Spanish newspapers, television and radio stations exist in major American cities, usually reflecting the various cultural influences of the primary countries of origin. Younger generations in these communities often mix the two major languages into “Spanglish.”
See Hispanic Americans in the American People section for further detail.
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