Several Algonkian tribes originally inhabited what is now Maryland. There are some Indian place-names, such as Potomac, Susquehanna, and Allegheny.

The state's diverse topography has contributed to unusual diversity in its basic speech. Geographical isolation of the Delmarva Peninsula, proximity to the Virginia piedmont population, and access to southeastern and central Pennsylvania helped to yield a language mixture that now is dominantly Midland and yet reflects earlier ties to Southern English.

Regional features occur as well. In the northeast are found eastern Pennsylvania pavement (sidewalk) and baby coach (baby carriage). In the north and west are poke (bag), quarter till, sick on the stomach, openseed peach (freestone peach), and Pennsylvania German ponhaws (scrapple). In the southern portion are found light bread (white bread), curtain (shade), carry (escort), crop as /krap/, and bulge with the vowel of put . East of Chesapeake Bay are mosquito hawk (dragonfly), paled fence (picket fence), poor (rhyming with mower ), and Mary with the vowel of mate . In central Maryland, an earthworm is a baitworm .

In 2000, 4, 322,329 residents, or 87.% of the population five years old or older (down from 91.1% in 1990), spoke only English at home.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "African languages" includes Amharic, Ibo, Twi, Yoruba, Bantu, Swahili, and Somali. The category "Other Asian languages" includes Dravidian languages, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, and Turkish. The category "Other Indic languages" includes Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, and Romany.


Population 5 years and over 4,945,043 100.0
Speak only English 4,322,329 87.4
Speak a language other than English 622,714 12.6
Speak a language other than English 622,714 12.6
Spanish or Spanish Creole 230,829 4.7
French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 42,838 0.9
Chinese 41,883 0.8
African languages 36,967 0.7
Korean 32,937 0.7
German 23,796 0.5
Tagalog 18,495 0.4
Russian 17,584 0.4
Vietnamese 14,891 0.3
Italian 13,798 0.3
Other Asian languages 12,405 0.3
Persian 11,951 0.2
Hindi 11,389 0.2
Other Indic languages 11,345 0.2
Greek 10,717 0.2
Arabic 10,458 0.2