Map Showing The Most Commonly Spoken Language Other than English by Borough

Map Showing The Most Commonly Spoken Language Other than English by Borough

The map above quite simply shows which language, besides English, has the most speakers in each of London's 32 boroughs + The City. The map was found via reddit and is based on data from the 2011 UK Census found here (excel spreadsheet; 1mb).

My guess is that you're probably not shocked by the second languages in the boroughs you're familiar with, but you may be a bit surprised by others.

I've walked all over London and I'm still slightly surprised by the following:

  • French being the second language of the City. Not sure what I expected to be honest.
  • Portuguese being the second language of Lambeth and Spanish being the second language of Southwark, especially given that Portuguese speakers are to the west of Spanish speakers.
  • Despite living in Camden, I'm a little surprised to see Bengali as the second language. If I'd had to guess I would have said Arabic.
  • Greenwich is probably the biggest surprise of all, I would not have thought there would be a big enough concentration of Nepalese speakers to be the second most common language.

And just in case you're wondering how the numbers breakdown:

  • Polish: 7 boroughs - (Barnet, Bromley, Ealing, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, and Wandsworth)
  • Turkish: 4 boroughs - (Hackney, Islington, Haringey, Enfield)
  • Bengali: 3 boroughs - (Camden, Newham and Tower Hamlets)
  • French: 3 boroughs - (The City, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea)
  • Punjabi: 3 boroughs - (Bexley, Hillingdon and Hounslow)
  • Tamil: 3 boroughs - (Croydon, Kingston and Sutton)
  • Gujarati: 2 boroughs - (Brent and Harrow)
  • Urdu: 2 boroughs - (Redbridge and Waltham Forest)
  • Lithuanian: 2 boroughs - (Barking and Havering)
  • Arabic: 1 borough (Westminster)
  • Nepalese: 1 borough (Greenwich)
  • Portuguese: 1 borough (Lambeth)
  • Spanish: 1 borough (Southwark)

In total, 14 boroughs have second languages from within the EU, 14 boroughs have second languages from countries in the Indian sub-continent and 5 have speakers from elsewhere.

Want to join us in one of the world's most diverse cities? Then read:

Moving to London? The Ultimate Living & Working Guide

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9 Responses to “Map Showing The Most Commonly Spoken Language Other than English by Borough”

  1. bsanchez
    August 6, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    Technically you are right in stating that Portuguese and Spanish are “second languages from within the EU”, but I think it likely that most of the speakers themselves in Lambeth and Southwark are likely to be South Americans.

    • Ian
      August 6, 2014 at 10:25 am #

      Very good point, I hadn’t even thought of that. Just assumed most would be from the EU as it’s very easy for them to move here. Would be interesting to know country of origin.

  2. Jan
    August 13, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    What surprises me most is that speakers of Lithuanian are at all showing on this map.
    I would also be interested in languages which are not showing. How is the distribution of speakers of Dutch, Malay, Afrikaans, German, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, the Scandinavian languages?

  3. Karim
    August 18, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    What was really surprising is that Somali didnt show up on this language map, because there are more Somali speakers in areas like Islington, Lambeth, Greenwich than any other communities, I am also suprsied Yoruba is listed in any of the boroughs.


  4. Александр
    November 4, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    In addition to the tube map of tongues, O’Brien has just published a map showing the top occupations of people living near each tube stop .

  5. Jeff Han
    June 7, 2016 at 8:56 am #

    Hi Ian,

    I am doing ethnographic research on the London Boroughs and find your results fascinating.
    Could you tell me what method you used to gather data and how you falsified that data?

    Jeff Han

    • Ian
      June 8, 2016 at 6:26 am #

      Hi Jeff,

      As it says in the article data came from the 2011 census.


  6. Mr. Duck
    January 18, 2018 at 1:18 am #

    Too much multi-culturalism in London and other parts of England, not enough multiculturalism throughout former colonies such as Australia, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and the Falklands.

    • Ian
      January 18, 2018 at 11:34 am #

      I don’t even know how to respond to this comment.

      I’m not sure if you’re saying that London/England has more multiculturalism than Australia, USA, Canada, etc. But this untrue, Toronto’s population is 46% foreign born, Sydney is 43% and New York is 37%, just slightly more than London. Moreover, 28% of Australia, 22% of Canada and 14% of the United States population is made up of immigrants compared to just 13% for the UK.

      Now if you mean that more multiculturalism should come former colonies, might I remind you that India, Pakistan, Nigeria were all colonies as well.

      Go crawl back under the rock you came from. Immigration is one of the primary reasons The US, Canada and Australia are such economic powerhouses today but the UKipers among don’t seem to get that.

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