Where are the Spanish tweets?

A few years ago I was on a date with an open borders skeptic. While chatting my date complained that Hispanics were not assimilating quickly enough and refused to learn the language. I pointed out that her family was descended from Poles who had come over only a few generations ago. Today not one of them, including herself, could speak Polish. Why did she think Spanish would fare any better?

My date was not alone in her concern about language assimilation. One does not need to search far to find someone making the same basic argument: X group is not learning the language quickly enough. This will lead to the destruction of our nation! Or worse – the United States will become another Belgium.

I could write a few thousand words discussing why the United States doesn’t have to worry about becoming Belgium. Not that there is anything wrong with Belgium. Instead though I will present a question and a map.

Where are the Spanish tweets?


J.B. Post, Ken, and Peter Berlich have constructed a map showing the world by language use in twitter. North American is solidly grey (English). The only exception is the urban core of Quebec where French (in violet) has managed to persist. A few spots of pink (Spanish) can be seen in Mexico, but they fail to penetrate the US border. The full map can be shown here.

The beauty of the twitter map is that it shows us the language of choice among the millennial demographic, twitter’s core user base. First generation migrants may retain use of their native tongues but their millennial children certainly aren’t tweeting in Spanish, Chinese, or Tagalog. If migrants are not assimilating quickly enough we should see Spanish tweets dominating Texas, Florida, and California. Instead we see English continues to dominate the North American continent. Indeed, I suspect that the internet age has encouraged both English adoption among millennial children of migrants and by the world as a whole.

Further Reading:

Open Borders: The Case Page on Linguistic Assimilation, Linguistic and Cultural Fluency Requirements, and Assimilation Problems

Nathan Smith on Linguistic Externalities.

Vipul Naik on Two subtle lessons from the “Your in America” twitter bot. 

Open Borders page on Bloggers as Illegal Immigrants.

Michelangelo Landgrave

Michelangelo Landgrave is an economics graduate student at California State University, Long Beach.

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