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"Counties where at least 10 percent of people speak a language other than English at home."
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While this is ostensibly a map that would be great for a cultural geography unit, I'm also thinking about the spatial patterns that created this map. What current or historical migrations account for some of the patterns visible here? What would a map like this look like it it were produced 50 years ago? Why are Vermont and West Virginia the only states without a county with over 10% of the population that speak another language at home?
The presence of large numbers of people that speak languages other than English at home occurs on the east and west coasts of the U.S., but largely in the south and western areas of the U.S.. In high school we used to have discussions about how there were many immigrants coming into the U.S. from or through Mexico. With migration comes cultural diffusion, as the people coming into the United States bring their language and many other cultural elements of their country of origin with them. I know there are certain neighborhoods in cities in Rhode Island where most people that I see on the street are speaking Spanish. I have a relative that has married an immigrant from Guatemala, and she learned that the North East coast of the U.S. Is where many people from Central America move to- often in groups that settle as communities to help each other. I can understand that it is essential to live near people that speak your language, and it makes sense that their strength and comfort in numbers is also a way of having a "home away from home." Being the area of the world on the southern land border of the U.S., and that Central America consists mainly of Spanish speakers, it fills in the Southern areas of the U.S. with people that speak a language other than English. The coasts overall can be explained as being populated by people that speak languages other than English at home because they contain ports of travel and trade, and are points where many flights from other countries would land and drop off travelers and migrants. That and beautiful ocean views make the coasts a great place for foreigners to settle and live. These pull factors are likely influential reasons for people to relocate to the areas on the map.
This map does not bring many surprises. Places where there are a lot of Spanish speaking families are present in places where many Spanish people immigrate to, along the Mexican border and the southern tip of Florida, where Cuba is close by. One interesting thing about the French areas seen in Louisiana is that their version of French is a regional dialect. Not only is their a cluster of French speaking families, but they are all speaking a language native to the region. It is very surprising that there are not as many French speaking families along the Canadien border.