Paced by skyrocketing growth in the Hispanic population, the U.S. linguistic profile is rapidly changing and non-English speakers want to be heard—in their own language, the head of the world’s leading language industry association said today.
Hans Fenstermacher , CEO of the Globalization and Localization Association, said the United States, like other nations in the world, must grapple with the complexities of business and society in multiple languages and cultures.
“With one out of five U.S. households speaking a language other than English today, anyone who wants to sell a product, win an election, or reach a community can’t afford to ignore this country’s multilingual diversity,” Fenstermacher said.
But many U.S. institutions aren’t meeting the needs of linguistic minorities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people five and older who don’t speak English at home has exploded five times faster than the nation’s population growth over the past three decades. Spanish speakers account for 62 percent of non-English speakers.
With an estimated 52 million people in the U.S. today, Hispanics claimed more than half of the nation’s population growth over the last decade. Worldwide, the U.S. now ranks second only to Mexico in the number of Hispanics, and by 2050, the U.S. total is expected to reach nearly 133 million.
“Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the world today, behind Chinese and ahead of English,” Fenstermacher said. “Spanish in the U.S. isn’t going to be replaced by English entirely. So to succeed here and abroad, businesses need to be linguistically and culturally intelligent.”
GALA will host its 2013 global conference March 17-20 in Miami, marking the first time the language industry association’s annual event will be held on U.S. soil. Participants from more than 30 countries will address innovations and best practices in the global language business, with a particular focus on Latin American and Hispanic markets.