Hyderabad: For the first time ever, the ballot papers for the upcoming United States’ Presidential Elections are offered in Telugu and Urdu, in what can be seen as a special moment of pride for its speakers across the world. This is the first time both the languages are officially recognized by the government.
More voters will be given access to non-English ballots in the presidential elections, officials said early this year. Among several other Asian languages, Telugu and Urdu found its place on the ballot papers and the ballot box, which are being set up at the voting stations. Several non-resident Indians shared the demo ballot papers on social media.
Telugu is the fastest growing language in the U.S, studies by several think-tanks said. The number of speakers of Telugu has grown by 86% in the last seven years, according to the World Economic Forum. In 2018, there were more than 4,00,000 Telugu speakers in the US—nearly double the number from 2010.
However, it is still outside the top 20 of the most widely-spoken languages other than English.
Central New Jersey is home to the largest population concentration of Telugu people. Telugu people have also settled in New York City and the DC metropolitan area, as well as on the West Coast in Silicon Valley, where there are Telugu associations such as Telugu Association of North America (TANA), American Telugu Association (ATA) & North American Telugu Association (NATA).
Hindi and Urdu are widely spoken among the Indian and Pakistani communities in the United States as a first or second language. Speakers are concentrated in states with large South Asian populations, including California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Virginia.