Russian language in the United States
The Russian language is among the top ten most spoken languages in the United States. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Russians have migrated to the US and brought the language with them. Most Russian speakers in the US today are Russian Jews. According to the 2000 United States Census the number of Russian speakers was 706,242, which made Russian the 10th most spoken language in the country.
|^a Foreign-born population only|
The first Russians to land on the New World were explorers, who reached Alaska in 1648. More than 200 years later, in 1867, Alaska was sold to the United States by Czar Alexander II. Many Russian settlers returned to Russia, but a small number of them remained. In 1882 there were 16,918 Russian speakers in the US, and that number gradually increased to 387,416 by 1899.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Russian Jews migrated to the United States, fleeing persecution at home. Though many spoke Yiddish, most knew Russian. Millions also left Russia after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The 1920 US Census identified 392,049 United States citizens born in Russia; the statistics from a decade before that showed only 57,926 Russian-born Americans. Most of the newcomers were White émigré. The Russian immigration slowed in the 1930s and 1940s due to restrictions imposed by the Stalin government. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service listed 14,016 Russian immigrants entering the country from 1930 to 1944. Most of those people were citizens of the USSR who refused to return to their country from the trips abroad, so called nevozvrashchentsy.
The next big wave of immigration started in 1970s. Soviet Jews had almost unlimited opportunities for entering the U.S., and many did so. Russian-speaking Jews constitute about 80% of all immigrants from the former Soviet states.
Russian speakers are more likely to have a higher education degree than the national average. 92% of them have a high school diploma and 51% a bachelor's degree. 75% of Russian-speakers speak English "well" or "very well" according to the 2007 data of the U.S. Census Bureau.
In contrast to the prevalence of language schools among other immigrant communities in the U.S., such as Chinese and Korean, there are relatively few schools dedicated to preserving the Russian language among heritage speakers. As a result, many heritage speakers enroll in Russian language programs in college, which are geared primarily toward non-native speakers. While this has a positive effect on enrollment numbers in these programs, heritage speakers often exhibit idiosyncratic language forms that are acceptable in the émigré community but constitute errors in traditional Russian.
Like most Russian Americans, Russian-speakers are concentrated in major urban areas. The New York metropolitan area contains by far the largest number of Russian-speakers. Brooklyn became home to the largest Russian-speaking community in the United States; most notably, Brighton Beach has a large number of recent Russian immigrants and is also called "Little Odessa". The New York state's Russian-speaking population was 218,765 in 2000, which comprised about 30% of all Russian-speakers in the nation. California came second, with 118,382 speakers, followed by Michigan (40,372), New Jersey (38,566), Illinois (38,05), Massachusetts (32,580), Pennsylvania (32,189), Washington (31,339), and Ohio (17,594). In California, as of 2000, the highest density of Russian speakers (21% of total population) was observed in the ZIP code 90046, corresponding to the city of West Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. Statewide, the city of San Francisco accounted for about 14% of all Russian speakers, the ZIP codes of Hollywood and West Hollywood accounted for 12%, and northeast Sacramento accounted for 8%.
The first Russian-language newspaper in the United States, Svoboda (Freedom), was published in 1867-1871; it was known as the Alaska Herald in English. Dozens of short-lived Russian newspaper were published until 1940. Russkaya Reklama (Russian Advertisement) weekly, founded in 1993 in Brooklyn, New York, is the largest Russian-language newspaper in the US, with a circulation of over 100,000. It consists of yellow pages with classified ads.
Novoe russkoe slovo (The New Russian Word), published since 1910, was the longest published Russian daily newspaper until 2009, when it went weekly.
Kstati Russian American Newspaper (To the Point) serves the Bay Area.V Novom Svete (In the New World) covers mostly international news and is circulated nationwide, while Evreiskii Mir (The Jewish World) is targeted at Russian-speaking Jews.
Russian language stations Radio Mayak and Radio Baltica are also available in North America. There are local Russian language stations such as Davidzon Radio in New York and New Life Radio in Chicago, and many more are available online.
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- Potowski 2010, p. 181.
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- Potowski 2010, p. 185.
- Potowski 2010, p. 189.
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- "Table 5.Detailed List of Languages Spoken at Home for the Population 5 Years and Over by State: 2000". United States Census Bureau. February 25, 2003. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
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- Potowski 2010, p. 187.