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Polish-speakers No. 2 in England

  |   Jan. 31, 2013 at 12:28 AM
LONDON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Polish has become the most commonly spoken foreign language in England, a sign of changing migration patterns, the Census reported Wednesday.

The Census said that in 2011 about 1 percent of British residents, 565,000 people, are native Polish speakers, the Daily Mirror reported. The 2001 Census did not ask the same question about language, but at that time there were only 61,000 Poles in England and Wales.

Poland joined the European Union in 2004 and the Schengen Area in 2007, allowing its citizens to move freely around Europe. That set off a wave of migration westward.

Punjabi, with 273,000 speakers, was in third place, followed by Urdu, Bengali and Gujurati. The four languages, all spoken in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, accounted for 1.8 percent of the population.

About 92 percent of the total population in England and Wales are native English-speakers. But almost one-quarter, 22 percent, of Londoners were born speaking some other language.

Only 0.27 percent reported having no English-speaking ability.

The Census found about 100 languages spoken in the country, including near-extinct ones such as Manx Gaelic. There are even some speakers of Cornish, a descendant of ancient British that died out slowly after the 18th century but has been revived in recent decades.

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