U.S. Census Questionnaires May Be Printed In Arabic by 2020


Due to the skyrocketing number of people who people in the U.S. who primarily speak Arabic, the U.S. Census Bureau has started researching what it would take to print the 2020 census questionnaire in Arabic.

According to the Pew Research Center, Arabic is the fastest-growing language in the United States, and the seventh largest non-English language spoken in the U.S.  The numbers have risen so rapidly due to the increased immigration to the U.S. from North Africa and the Middle East.  

Pew reports that those who speak Arabic in the U.S. grew by 29 PERCENT from 2010 to 2014, and growth has not declined.   In comparison, Spanish-speaking people grew by six percent during that same time period.

The Census Bureau may also add a “Middle East / North Africa” category to the 2020 census form as part of the question about race and ethnicity.

There are challenges in implementing the translation, because Arabic is read right to left on the page, and Arabic names could be translated with many different spellings in English.   Many words cannot be broken up into individuals symbols, one for each box, the way English letters can.

Arabic Speakers

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