Indiana - Languages



Several Algonkian Indian tribes, including some from the east, met the white settlers who arrived in Indiana in the early 1800s. The heritage of the Delaware, Potawatomi, Miami, and other groups survives in many place-names, from Kokomo to Nappanee, Muncie, and Shipshewana.

Except for the dialect mixture in the industrial northwest corner and for the Northern-dialect fringe of counties along the Michigan border, Indiana speech is essentially that of the South Midland pioneers from south of the Ohio River, with a transition zone toward North Midland north of Indianapolis. Between the Ohio River and Indianapolis, South Midland speakers use evening for late afternoon, eat clabber cheese instead of cottage cheese, are wary of frogstools rather than toadstools, once held that toadfrogs and not plain toads caused warts, eat goobers instead of peanuts at a ball game, and may therefore be sick at the stomach. In the same region, some Hoosiers use a few Midland words that also occur north of Indianapolis, such as rock fence (stone wall), French harp (harmonica), mud dauber (wasp), shucks (leaves on an ear of corn), and perhaps even some expanding North Midland words, such as run (a small stream), teetertotter (seesaw), and fishworm. North of Indianapolis, speakers with a Midland Pennsylvania background wish on the pullybone of a chicken, may use a trestle (sawhorse), and are likely to get their hands greezy rather than greasy. Such was the Hoosier talk of James Whitcomb Riley.

In 2000, 93.5% of all Hoosiers five years old and older spoke only English at home, down from 95.2% in 1990.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "Other West Germanic languages" includes Dutch, Pennsylvania Dutch, and Afrikaans. The category "Other Slavic languages" includes Czech, Slovak, and Ukrainian.

Indiana

LANGUAGE NUMBER PERCENT
*Won US presidential election. **Write-in candidate Ralph Nader received 18,531 votes in 2000.
Population 5 years and over 5,657,818 100.0
Speak only English 5,295,736 93.6
Speak a language other than English 362,082 6.4
Speak a language other than English 362,082 6.4
Spanish or Spanish Creole 185,576 3.3
German 44,142 0.8
French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 18,065 0.3
Other West Germanic languages 15,706 0.3
Chinese 9,912 0.2
Polish 7,831 0.1
Serbo-Croatian 5,843 0.1
Japanese 5,339 0.1
Arabic 5,338 0.1
Other Slavic languages 5,129 0.1
Korean 5,032 0.1
Italian 4,798 0.1
Vietnamese 4,746 0.1
Greek 4,233 0.1
Tagalog 4,016 0.1


Jump to a detailed profile or search
site with Google Custom Search


All US cities
Indiana bigger cities, Indiana smaller cities, Indiana small cities
Indiana detailed state guide