Europe's most exotic city It's Manchester! 153 languages spoken by a population of 500,000
Rivalled only by New York and Paris for ethnic and linguistic mix
Indian and West African languages, Uyghur and Nahuati spokenStudy says number will only increase as students flood city
23:16 GMT, 16 December 2012
Diverse: A study has found 153 languages are spoken in Manchester
Its detractors try to portray it as a cold, wet and sometimes insular place.
But Manchester is actually one of the most exotic cities in the world, researchers claim. This is due to its cultural diversity, with at least 153 languages spoken.
Two-thirds of Mancunian school children are bilingual, with the number of languages likely to increase, according to the study by Manchester University.
The city is more diverse than London, and rivalled only by New York and Paris for its ethnic and linguistic mix, claims Professor Yaron Matras, who carried out the research.
‘Manchester’s language diversity is higher than many countries in the world,’ Professor Matras said. ‘It is very likely to be the top of the list in Europe, certainly when compared to other cities of its size.’
With a population of 500,000, Manchester is much smaller than London, where more than 300 languages are spoken by eight million inhabitants.
Professor Matras said: ‘There are certainly a greater number of languages spoken in London but these are by people who are passing through – diplomats, businessmen, etc – but in Manchester, the foreign language speakers are residents.
‘Around two-thirds of Mancunian school children are bilingual – a huge figure which indicates just how precious its linguistic culture is. As immigration and the arrival of overseas students to the city continues, it’s fair to say that this already large list is set to grow.’
Manchester’s rapid growth began during
the Industrial Revolution, with the city’s textile trade attracting
workers from across the empire, setting the pattern for diversity.
The policy of recruiting from abroad
for public services, such as the NHS, has helped bring in some of the
more obscure languages, the professor says.
Manchester is famous for its football teams, United and City, managed by Sir Alex Ferguson (left) and Roberto Mancini (right) respectively, but now has a new claim to fame
Manchester is also known for producing stars like former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher
These include more than a dozen
Indian languages, ten from West Africa, three Kurdish dialects, various
forms of the Romany language of Eastern European gypsies, Uyghur – which
is spoken by the Muslims of north-west China – and even Nahuatl, the
tongue of the ancient Aztecs of Mexico.
Professor Matras said the Census data
released last week underestimated the number of multi-lingual households
in the UK, as respondents were asked to name their main language.
‘Most multi-linguals speak a language
other than English at home, but use English at work, in their place of
study, so they will answer that English is their main language, even
though this is not strictly accurate.’