Vietnamese replaces Italian as most popular language other than English in City of Swan

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UWA anthropology and sociology professor Loretta Baldassar says a younger population has contributed to Vietnamese taking over from Italian as the most spoken language at home other than English in the City of Swan.

According to 2016 Census data, there were 2870 residents who spoke Vietnamese in 2016 compared to 1909 residents in 2006, when it ranked second.

In 2006, Italian was the most spoken language other than English with 1631 residents, but dropped to fourth in 2016 with 1379 residents.

The statistics are linked to an increase of 609 residents born in Vietnam living in the City and a decrease of 131 Italians over the past 10 years.

Dr Baldassar said the structure of the two population groups were changing.

“For many years Italian was the most spoken language at home and one of the reasons that has dropped off is that the Italy-born population is ageing and slowly dying,” she said.

“Over half of the Italy-born population are over 60.

“Italian is still highly spoken because there is a larger growing second and third generation of Italian background.

“Vietnamese, in comparison to the Italians, came as our first refugee group in the ’70s; their population is younger and bigger.”

Dr Baldassar said preserving language was important for cultural identity, ageing, intergenerational relationships and connections to the homeland,

“As the first generation get older, their ability with English can sometimes drop away,” she said.

“You want to avoid the situation where the second and third generation cannot communicate with their granny.”

Swan Mayor David Lucas said the City was proud of its cultural diversity and was pleased to see it continue to grow.

“Recognising and valuing our diverse and different cultures is important to the City as they enrich its cultural fabric by introducing new traditions, music, foods, interests and beliefs, and increasing innovation and prosperity,” Cr Lucas said.