Posted on May 9, 2019

Nearly Half of White Republicans Say It Bothers Them to Hear People Speaking Foreign Languages

Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, May 8, 2019

A new survey finds white Republicans are far more likely to be put off by foreign language speakers than their Democratic counterparts.

According to Pew Research Center, 47 percent of such Republicans say it would bother them “some” or “a lot” to “hear people speak a language other than English in a public place.” Eighteen percent of white Democrats said they would be similarly bothered.


Among all racial groups, whites (34 percent) are most likely to be bothered hearing foreign languages, followed by blacks (25 percent), Asians (24 percent) and Hispanics (13 percent). Among Americans overall, 70 percent put their level of unease at “not much” or “not at all.”


The United States has no official national language, although a number of states have declared English to be theirs. More than 1 in 5 U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home, according to census data. In many regions of the country the percentage is much higher than that. The data show that the majority of those foreign language speakers are also fully proficient in English, meaning they are bilingual by choice.

{snip} Nearly 60 percent of Republicans said that a majority nonwhite population would “weaken American customs and values,” while an identical percentage predicted it would lead to greater conflict between racial and ethnic groups.

Republicans also stood out in that survey for their skepticism of interracial marriage: One-third said “the fact that more people of difference races are marrying each other” was good for the country, while 16 percent said it was bad.

Other questions in the latest Pew survey shine a light on what’s driving Republicans’ displeasure with foreign language speakers: For one thing, Republicans are more skeptical of racial diversity in general. {snip}

More than 1 in 5 Republicans support the view that having a population comprising “people of many different races and ethnicities has a negative impact on the country’s culture.” That compares with 12 among the total population.