Queens has more languages than anywhere in the world — here’s where they’re found

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From “Nonstop Metropolis” by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. Cartography: Molly Roy; Photographs: Mirissa Neff

There are as many as 800 languages spoken in New York City, and nowhere in the world has more than Queens, according to the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA).

You can see many of the languages in the map above, which is featured in “Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas” by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. The map was created by Molly Roy with help from the ELA, and also shows libraries, museums, and other linguistic centers.

“The capital of linguistic diversity, not just for the five boroughs, but for the human species, is Queens,” Solnit and Jelly-Schapiro write.

The five miles from Astoria to Forest Hills have a dense progression of languages: Greek, Filipino, Urdu, Indonesian, Russian, Japanese, Lithuanian, and others, including more obscure ones like Chavacano, Waray-Waray, Minangkabau, and Bukharian. Here’s a close-up:

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From “Nonstop Metropolis” by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

One limit of the map is that every language shows up only once, when in fact many show up throughout the borough. Mandarin, for instance, is listed in Flushing, which is Queens’ original Chinatown, but not in Elmhurst, which also has a prominent Chinese community.

Flushing also has pockets of Cantonese, Shanghainese, Taishanese, Sichuanese, and other dialects. Korean and Mongolian are nearby, too. A close-up:

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From “Nonstop Metropolis” by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

Solnit has also published atlases of San Francisco and New Orleans.