Saturday, December 29, 2012

Most Culturally Diverse City Per Mile Named

Manchester, England, is home to people who speak at least 153 different languages, indicating that it is  the most culturally diverse city for its size in the world.

That level of diversity even goes beyond the scope of a city.

"Manchester's language diversity is higher than many countries in the world," Yaron Matras, who co-organized a study on Manchester, was quoted as saying in a press release.

Cities such as New York, London and Paris also rank highly, but they are much larger. For example, the population of New York City is just over 8.2 million, based on 2011 U.S. Census data. Manchester's population is estimated at about 503,000.

The people of Manchester, described as "Mancunian," represent nearly every culture on the planet, census data reveals. Many of these residents hold on to their family's heritage.

"We do know that around two thirds of Mancunian schoolchildren are bilingual- a huge figure which indicates just how precious its linguistic culture is," Matras said. "As immigration and the arrival of overseas students to the city continues, it's fair to say that this already large list (of languages spoken in the Manchester) is set to grow."

Matras helped to establish Multilingual Manchester, an archive that contains over 100 reports on multilingualism and language minorities in Manchester. Examples of languages spoken in the city include Chitrali from North Pakistan, Konkani from Western India, Dagaare from Ghana and Burkina Faso and Uyghur from NW China.

The European Union could have helped to forge the city's linguistic and cultural diversity.

Matras explained, "Because of EU enlargement and the access granted to new EU citizens, language diversity in Manchester is more dynamic than most cities. Melbourne, for example, is famous for its many languages, but as it tends to have very established communities, it will be less diverse than Manchester."

Grasping the scope of the city's diversity has important implications. All aspects of city life, from education to health care, require sensitivity to the particular needs of individuals. Good communication is key, so the researchers are working closely with local authorities and schools to advise on matters pertaining to language, as well as on insuring proper representation for groups deemed to be vulnerable.

While the city faces challenges, its rich cultural offerings, strength and unique character prevail. Travelers seem to agree. Manchester is now the third-most visited city in the UK by foreign visitors, after London and Edinburgh. It is the most visited city in England outside London.

Vegas, Jennifer. 2012. “Most Culturally Diverse City Per Mile Named”. Discovery News. Posted: December 13, 2012. Available online:

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