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Study: Spanish Is Here To Stay

Spanish will continue to be the second language of the United States far into the future, a new study says.


July 22, 2005
Copyright © 2005 MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

Spanish-speakers will continue to dominate the U.S. Hispanic population over the next two decades, declining only slightly despite the surging growth of second- and third-generation Hispanics, a study released Thursday said.

Today 74 percent of Hispanics, or 27.8 million people, speak Spanish; in 2025, 66 percent, 40.2 million people, will speak Spanish, according to the study, ''The Future Use of the Spanish Language in the USA -- Projected to 2015 and 2025,'' by the Roslow Research Group of Port Washington, N.Y.

The Hispanic population is expected to rise from an estimated 41.6 million today to 67.5 million in 2025.

''The numbers are pretty dramatic,'' said José Cancela, principal of Hispanic USA, a Coral Gables-based consultancy which funded the analysis. ``It's a sign for marketers that Spanish is here to stay.''

Which language to use to reach Hispanic consumers is a perennial conundrum for advertisers because a certain number of Hispanics are bilingual or speak predominantly English while others use principally Spanish.

The debate has taken on a new twist recently as marketers have spotted the huge mushrooming of second- and third-generation Hispanics, who tend to be bilingual or English-speakers. This has given rise to magazines, radio stations and cable channels geared toward the young English-speaking Hispanic.

The study, which was based on Census and other population research, affirmed the growth trend: 44 percent of today's Hispanics are foreign-born, 29 percent second-generation and 27 percent third-generation.

By 2025, foreign-born Hispanics will make up 35 percent of that group with the second-generation increasing to 35 percent and third-generation to 30 percent.

The use of Spanish will remain fairly constant in the second generation, around 75 to 79 percent, over the next 20 years, the study said, but in the third generation, use of Spanish will drop dramatically, from 35 percent currently to 16 percent in 2025.

Researcher Peter Roslow noted that although percentages drop, the raw numbers actually increase given the projected growth of the Hispanic population as a whole.

Roslow said his research has shown that Spanish-language advertising and marketing is particularly effective with the bilingual group.

''The Spanish-dominant speaker takes Spanish for granted, but bilinguals are more aware of Spanish in ads,'' he said.


Population figures in millions

AGE / 2005 / 2025 / % Chg

5-17 / 7.1 / 8.6 / +21%

18-24 / 3.9 / 5.8 / +47%

25 & over / 16.7 / 25.8 / +54%

TOTAL / 27.8 / 40.2 / +45%


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