Speaking the right language to reach Londoners

Website admins and community outreach take note: even a first glance at the latest release of UK Census figures shows just how much of a global city London has become. (A more detailed blog looking at the picture across the UK will follow once we have crunched the numbers.)

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The data released today reveals that in most parts of London over 100 languages are spoken, with only three of London’s 33 boroughs having fewer. One borough, Hillingdon, even managed a clean sweep, with local respondents for all 107 languages defined by the Census.

The Census asked about the main language spoken by all adults and children aged three or above.
Around 22 percent of the capital’s residents speak a language other than English as their main language — that’s just over 1.7 million Londoners. That compares to eight percent of the population across England and Wales who speak a language other than English or Welsh.

After English, London’s most common first languages are Polish, Bengali, Gujarati, French, Urdu and Arabic. Polish is the main language of almost two per cent of London’s residents. There is variation from borough to borough, with the most common first language in London Borough of Haringey being Turkish.

We have discussed before how you can boost a website with community translation. The depth of this new information is a real boon for those planning website or community translation: a topic we will be returning to soon.

Picture: Children are given red envelopes containing lucky money, at Chinese New Year celebrations in London’s chinatown in 2011. (credit: WorldAccent Translation [CC-BY-3.0])