As a country of immigrants, it is common to meet people from different countries and to hear different languages being spoken. I love walking into a restaurant of a country whose cuisine I have never tasted or experimenting with a recipe from a country whose food is unfamiliar to me.
I am accustomed to seeing signs printed in both English and Spanish, but I must say I was surprised with the sign I saw above the cashier during my recent visit to Lowe’s Home Improvement store. At the top, in bold white letters on a red background, were the instructions to “point to the sentence you can read,” followed by the same sentence in four other languages.
“That’s nice,” I thought, but as my eyes drifted downward while I viewed the entire sign, my thoughts changed to “That’s weird,” when I noticed the fourth language on the list: Russian! The others, in order, were Spanish, French, and Chinese.
Now I know Russia is all around us, and if we watch the news or even many television shows, we cannot go a day without hearing about someone or something Russian-related. But are there really enough people in my country, or my state, to warrant a sign at Lowe’s having Russian as one of the five languages on that sign? I decided to do some research.
The most commonly-spoken languages after English are:
South Carolina United States
Gujarati African Languages
On both a state and national level, the census bureau puts Russia at #8 and #9 of commonly spoken languages, so are there, perhaps, more Russian spies making purchases of hammers, saws, vices, and toilets at Lowe’s than the average speakers of that language? And what could possibly be the reason that Russian beats out Chinese and Tagalog (a language spoken in the Philippines)?
This inquiring mind wants to know.