Telugu is mainly spoken in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in southern India.
They have a combined population of 84 million people and are the fourth most widely spoken language in India, according to the 2011 census, according to an article by the BBC’s Reality Check team together with BBC Telugu.
The study on languages spoken in the US used data from the American Community Survey and compared the number of people who said they spoke a language other than English at home in 2010 and 2017.
Last year there were more than 400,000 Telugu speakers in the United States, nearly double the number in 2010.
Of the top 10 fastest growing languages in the US, seven are from South Asia.
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Much of this can be attributed to the links forged between the Indian city of Hyderabad, in the state of Telangana, and the US engineering and technology industries, says Prasad Kunisetty, creator of the Telugu People Foundation. , a US non-profit organization.
Kunisetty moved to the United States in 2001 looking for a future in the technology sector.
The rapid growth of information technology in the mid-1990s led to a high demand for software engineers, he described.
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Many were recruited from Hyderabad, the largest Telugu-speaking city. The states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana together now have more than 800 engineering schools.
The city has become a major hub for the technology and engineering industry in India and has been sending students en masse to the United States.
Over the years, Telugu-speaking Americans continued to hire software engineers from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Many Indians benefit from the H-1B visa program, which provides work permits to thousands of foreigners each year, often in the technology sector.
An estimated 70% of those visas go to Indian workers and allow recipients to apply for permanent residence status.
Among the most prominent Telugu-speaking personalities living in the US are the first Miss America, of Indian origin, Nina Davuluri, and the current CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella.
Spanish is ahead
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The rise of Telugu is significant as a percentage increase, but it started from a low base compared to other languages.
Between 2010 and 2017 there were more new speakers of Spanish (up to 4 million more), Chinese, Arabic and Hindi, according to the Center for Immigration.
Of the more than 60 million people who speak a language other than English out of a total population of approximately 320 million, the vast majority speak Spanish.
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Of the most commonly spoken languages in South Asia, Hindi comes first, followed by Urdu, Gujarati, and then Telugu.
The number of people who speak French and German at home has decreased. While the number of those who speak Italian fell by more than 200,000 in the last decade.
About 80% of the Telugu speakers interviewed said that they speak English very well.
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One shortcoming of the census data, however, is that respondents are asked how well they speak English and not about their proficiency in other languages, says Jennifer Leeman, a professor of linguistics at George Mason University.
“It is difficult to know the level of proficiency in other languages of those who speak English well, especially if they were born in the United States or immigrated as children.”