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German Still Spoken in
McIntosh County

Rathke, Dr. Richard. "German Still Spoken in McIntosh County." Ashley Tribune, 20 April 2005, 3.


In 1980, 11.3 percent of North Dakotans spoke a language other than English in their home.

Twenty years later, 2000 census data show that the proportion of North Dakota residents speaking a language other than English in their home dropped to 6.3 percent.

This months Population Bulletin, a monthly publication from the North Dakota State Data Center at North Dakota State University, presents a summary of the non-English speaking population in North Dakota. While the percentage of North Dakota residents speaking a language other than English in their home has declined, just the opposite is happening at the national level.

Nationally, the percentage increased from 11 percent in 1980 to 17.9 percent in 2000.

At the same time the non-English speaking population in North Dakota declined, it also changed in composition. In 1980, the majority of non-English speakers (54.9 percent) spoke German in their homes and 20.4 percent Scandinavian. In 2000, these percentages declined to 39.3 percent speaking German and 8.4 percent speaking Scandinavian.

We still have two counties in the state where more than one in four residents speak something other than English at home, McIntosh (35.9 percent) and Logan (25.5 percent), says Richard Rathge, North Dakota State Data Center director. In both counties, German is the dominant language.

While the number of North Dakota residents speaking German or Scandinavian languages in their homes has declined since 1980, people speaking Spanish or Asian languages have increased.

North Dakotans speaking Spanish in their homes more than doubled during the past 20 years, from 3,325 in 1980 to 8,263 in 2000, capturing nearly 21.8 percent of all non-English speakers in 2000, second only to German.

Reprinted with permission of the Ashely Tribune.   

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