Introduction The US population claiming roots in the Arabic-speaking world has doubled in the last few decades. As shown in Table 1.1, the Arabic-speaking population grew by 73 percent between 1990 and 2000, and a further 25 percent between 2000 and 2007. This increase places Arabic as the tenth most commonly spoken non-English language in the USA, in spite of representing just 0.5 percent of the total population. Overall, this group is better educated and wealthier than the average US population at large. With a history of over five generations of active immigration to the USA, those with connections to the geographically and culturally diverse peoples of the Arab world present a varied profile both linguistically and in terms of identity. While predominantly originating in the Middle Eastern Levant region, Egypt, and Iraq, the Arabic heard in the USA today represents the diverse dialects and cultures of the twenty countries officially recognized as Arabic-speaking, as well as the types of Arabic spoken natively by communities elsewhere. The language shift to English that occurred among earlier immigrants and their descendants is now being offset with more efforts toward Arabic-language maintenance among the more recent waves of immigration. This chapter explores the presence and use of Arabic in the USA with an eye toward understanding its future longevity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)