Telugu is the fastest growing language in the U.S., says a study by an American think tank. The south Indian language, Telugu, the fourth most spoken language in India, is still outside the top 20 of the most widely-spoken languages other than English in the U.S., reports the BBC.
Between 2010 and 2017, the number of native Telugu speakers in the US surged 86%—the largest uptick in a foreign language-speaking group—the results of a September 2018 study by Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) show. This was the highest jump among the most widely spoken foreign languages in the country, among those that had over 400,000 people speaking it.
Speakers of other popular Indian languages like Hindi and Gujarati also clocked high growth rates.
The study on languages spoken in the U.S. used data from the American Community Survey and compared the number of people who said they spoke a language other than English at home in 2010 and 2017, the BBC said.
Back in 2000, the US was home to just 87,543 Telugu speakers—the language is native to the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which were a single entity until 2014. By 2010, there were 222,977. According to the latest figures, there are 415,414 of them, CIS found when looking at Census Bureau population data as of July 01, 2017.
Out of the top 10 fastest-growing languages in America, seven are from South Asia. The rise of Telugu was connected to the links forged between Hyderabad and the U.S. engineering and technology industries, Prasad Kunisetty, founder of the Telugu People Foundation, a non-profit organization in the U.S., was quoted as saying.
The rapid growth of IT in the mid-1990s led to a huge demand for software engineers, he said. Many were recruited from Hyderabad, which sends students to the U.S. in large numbers. Down the years, Telugu-speaking Americans have continued to hire software engineers from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the BBC said. Notable U.S.-based Telugu speakers include the first Indian American Miss America Nina Davuluri and the current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Of the more than 60 million people who speak a language other than English out of the total population of about 320 million, the vast majority speak Spanish. Out of the most commonly spoken South Asian languages, Hindi is first, followed by Urdu, Gujarati and then Telugu.