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The Salt Lake Valley: A Diverse Language Hub

October 22nd, 2013

When people think of areas in the world with a great deal of linguistic diversity, the Salt Lake Valley is probably not the first place that springs to mind.  However, due to an influx of refugees during the past few decades, this area, which stretches from North Salt Lake down to South Jordan, has become a nest of cultures and languages  from all over the globe.

According to the International Rescue Committee, there are currently around 50,000 refugees living in the Salt Lake Valley. With a total population of just over a million people, that means that recent refugees account for about 5% of the area’s demographic. Where do most of these refugees come from, and what do they speak? Below is a list of just a few of the countries of origin for many of Utah’s refugees and their native languages (in parentheses):

  • Somalia (Somali, Maay-Maay, Arabic)
  • Bosnia (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian)
  • Rwanda (Kinyarwanda)
  • Bhutan (Bhutanese, Nepali)
  • Burundi (Kirundi)
  • Burma (Burmese, Karen, Karenni, Chin)
  • Ethiopia (Amharic)
  • Iraq (Arabic, Kurdish)
  • Sierra Leone (Krio)
  • Sudan (Arabic)

These refugees rely heavily on professional language services to help them adjust to their new surroundings and find a new home in the Salt Lake Valley. CommGap International Language Services has played a big role in this effort by offering expertise in translating government and medical forms, birth certificates, and other critical documents for state agencies, hospitals, and private individuals. CommGap also provides interpretation services for nearly all of these languages, and has assisted many refugees in receiving medical care and acquiring driver’s licenses.

While finding qualified resources to accomplish these tasks is far from easy, CommGap strives to offer the best service in the region, and it has become the source of high quality service for many organizations throughout the valley. For more information on refugees currently residing in the Salt Lake Valley, visit

http://utahrefugeecoalition.wordpress.com

http://www.rescue.org/us-program/us-salt-lake-city-ut

 

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