Queens’ riches are in its diversity, which was confirmed yet again by a new study that found the borough has more languages than anywhere else on the planet.
A group called the Endangered Language Alliance, based in Manhattan, is dedicated to keeping the most obscure tongues alive in urban areas so that the cultures they represent are not lost.
“The capital of linguistic diversity, not just for the five boroughs but for the human species is Queens,” write two scholars, who tracked the languages identified in “Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas.”
The nonprofit has concluded that at least 800 languages are spoken in New York City alone. A map in the atlas shows a mind-boggling selection of languages spattered from one end of Queens to the other — a reminder of how we share our ethnic identities at a time when immigrant communities have been singled out by the new Trump administration as a threat to the American way of life.
As the world’s borough, we take pride in the fact that just about half our residents are foreign-born and have brought their exotic customs, languages and special talents to Queens.
We no longer celebrate just the standard American holidays but have expanded our repertoire to include the Fiesta del la Flor parade in Jackson Heights for South American residents, the birthday of Lord Ganesh at the Hindu Temple in Flushing and the rite of spring known as Phagwah marked by the throwing of colored powder by the Indo-Guyanese community in Rochmond Hill.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park is filled with clusters of people saluting their heritage at impromptu festivals and gatherings during the summer months as they chatter away in Urdu (Hindustani), Basa Bali (Balinese), Dansk (Danish) and Masalit (Darfur)
The ultimate immigrant event may be the Queens International Night Market featuring more than 200 independent vendors from over 60 countries. The sprawling open air market is located in the parking lot behind the Queens Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows and draws thousands every night.
The wildly successful event operates every Saturday night in the summer and then for another segment in the fall.
As President Trump fine-tunes his directives to restrict certain foreigners from entering the country and to step up deportations, Queens continues to revel in the amalgam of manifold cultures that inspired the Lonely Planet travel guide publisher to name the borough the nation’s No. 1 tourist destination.
©2017 Community News Group
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