How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Five new Asian languages, three spoken in India, added for L.A. County voters

Photo by Joe Hall/Flickr (Creative Commons)


How many languages do L.A. County voters have access to information in? Wild guess?

If you guessed seven, that's correct. And it will soon be 12, according to county officials.

Los Angeles County's registrar-recorder's office has announced that it's identified five new languages, all of them spoken in Asia, in which voters will have access to materials or to assistance from bilingual poll workers.

The county will be adding translated election information in Hindi, Khmer and Thai, and poll workers who speak Bengali and Gujarati (both spoken in India, along with Hindi) to be made available as needed. L.A. County is now "the most linguistically diverse jurisdiction in the nation," a news release yesterday claimed.

It's still a relative drop in the bucket considering how many languages are spoken in L.A. County - more than 200 by some estimates - but the choices are interesting. The languages chosen reflect a bigger demographic trend in California, where the growth of the Asian American population outpaced Latino population growth between 2000 and 2010. Indian Americans, in particular, represented the fastest-growing Asian group in the country. 

In addition to English, the languages so far available to voters in the county had been Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. 

More testament to how as the Los Angeles area goes, so does the nation - and vice versa.

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