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Old March 4th, 2007, 06:45 PM   #1
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Santa Clara County News & Developments

Most Santa Clara County residents soon will speak a language other than English at home
By Mike Swift
MEDIANEWS STAFF

Inside a San Jose industrial shop, Mason Lin stands amid the tart smell of natural gas, holding a glass tube over a hissing blue flame. Lin waits until the tube glows orange before twisting it into the serpentine swirls and bows of a Mandarin character.

Within three hours, a colorful neon sign that will blaze the name of a Chinese-owned business into the night emerges between Lin's patient fingers.

The words "Now Hiring" appear over the door of Allen Signs, the sign-making company owned by Mason Lin's brother Allen. When Allen Lin arrived in San Jose from Taiwan in 1981, there was enough work to support one man making Chinese signs, no more. Mason joined him in 1986, and Allen Signs is now a seven-person shop, with Lin looking for a few more workers.

"Ever since 1990, I can see it, it's steady -- irregardless of the economy, our growth is very steady," said Allen Lin, who makes signs in both Chinese and English -- frequently in both -- for everything from yogurt shops and American fast-food franchises to flooring companies. "In 1981, I'm the only one doing that."

As it grows as a global technology hub, Silicon Valley has become one of the most polyglot places in the United States. Santa Clara County is on the brink of a linguistic milestone: Within the next few years, more people will speak a foreign language at home than the number who speak English, recently released census data shows. Given the statistical uncertainty, that threshold may already have been crossed.

Santa Clara County has the largest population of Hindi speakers among all counties in the United States, the second largest population of Vietnamese speakers, the third largest population of Persian/Farsi speakers, and the fifth biggest number of Chinese speakers, a MediaNews analysis of 2005 census data shows.

Since 2000, Santa Clara County has passed Los Angeles and San Francisco to become the California county with the highest percentage of immigrants, with 36 percent of its population born outside of the United States. Miami is the only metropolitan region in the United States with a higher percentage of immigrants than the San Jose area.


There are about a dozen large counties in the United States -- including Los Angeles, Miami-Dade and the New York City boroughs of Queens and the Bronx -- where English-speakers are in the minority. But perhaps only urban Queens has the global shuffle of suburban Santa Clara County, with its multiple South and East Asian languages and sizable Spanish-speaking population.

Joint Venture: Silicon Valley, which has a new 2007 Index report, calls the linguistic mix an economic advantage, allowing collaboration with emerging "spikes" of high-tech innovation and venture capital investment in regions like Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; and Helsinki, Finland.

"If you think about Miami or L.A., those are places that are characterized in some sense by ethnic tension, and that's not the case in Silicon Valley," said Russell Hancock, president and CEO of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley.

Perhaps, but language was at the heart of two recent community battles in Silicon Valley -- Palo Alto's debate over a Mandarin language immersion program in its public schools, and the city of Santa Clara's dust-up over a proposal to designate a stretch of El Camino Real as a Koreatown, with a Korean-language police officer and requirements that Korean-American merchants post signs in English as well as Korean.

Both ideas met with an emotional backlash from residents. Koreatown opponents, who said the plan could splinter Santa Clara along ethnic lines, gathered more than 1,000 petition signatures under the banner "Santa Clara Unity" to oppose the idea, which the city killed in January.

Santa Clara resident Ron Johnstone said Koreatown was an example of something that erodes the nation's common identity.

When Johnstone's father arrived in New York wearing a hat as an immigrant from England in the 1930s, he looked down from his ship and "he didn't see a single person wearing a hat. He had decided he was going to be an American, so he took the hat and he threw it overboard. That was an example of a man who wanted to become an American," Johnstone said. Proposals such as Koreatown aren't "doing us a bit of good. We don't try to get people to fit in, it would be much better for them if we did."

In San Jose, City Council member Madison Nguyen wants to designate a Vietnamtown but said she doesn't want segregation.

"We're not just focusing on our community, we're integrating into this country," Nguyen said of San Jose's Vietnamese. "I think in a way it's nice to have that sort of (Vietnamtown) designation, but at the same time, it's nice to sort of blend in, blend in with the city and know there is a large group of Vietnamese-Americans, of Filipino-Americans or Indo-Americans here but at the same time integrating into the city."

By some measures of race and ethnicity, Los Angeles, Miami or New York City all have more diversity than Silicon Valley.

"They don't have a sizeable black population. They don't have the Latino population" of Los Angeles or Miami, said Albert Camarillo, a Stanford history professor who studies immigrant and Latino issues. In Los Angeles and parts of New York City, a majority of residents speak languages other than English at home.

What is remarkable about Santa Clara County is the number of languages spoken by a sizeable number of people -- from Asian languages such as Tagalog, Korean and Gujarathi, to European languages such as German, Russian and Portuguese. The San Jose Unified School District teaches English to a student population that speaks about 40 languages at home, from Arabic to Tigrinya, a language spoken by an ethnic group that originates in Eritrea and parts of neighboring Ethiopia in eastern Africa.

Although Asian languages are growing more quickly, Spanish remains the most common foreign language in Santa Clara County, spoken by about 18 percent of the population, up from about 14 percent in 1990. Mandarin and other dialects of Chinese are next, spoken by about 8 percent of the population -- double its share in 1990. Vietnamese and Tagalog come next.

Silicon Valley is also essentially suburban in character, unlike the dense and tribal urban neighborhoods of the Northeast that were the beachheads of an earlier generation of immigrants and remain so in places such as Queens.

Silicon Valley immigrants also are more likely to be bilingual. In Los Angeles, San Francisco and Queens, 40 percent or less of Chinese-speakers speak English "very well," 2005 census numbers show. In Santa Clara County, about 50 percent of Chinese-speakers speak English very well. According to the Joint Venture: Silicon Valley report's analysis of census data, 80 percent of the region's immigrants speak English "well" or "very well."

San Jose has the best-educated suburbs in the United States in terms of people with a four-year college degree, according to an analysis by Brookings Institution demographer Bill Frey, and it is the leading edge of a transformation that increasingly makes it tougher for politicians seeking national office to capture "the suburban vote" with a single strategy.

"Back in the 1950s, the suburbs were distinct in terms of their demographics," Frey said. "You could say you were from the suburbs and people would conjure up that you were white, middle class, had a family and lived in a single-family house. Now it's almost the reverse ... you talk about the suburbs and that's a microcosm of America."

About 55 percent of Silicon Valley's science and engineering talent was born abroad, the Joint Venture report says, with 40 percent of the region's total work force foreign-born.

The Babelian stew of languages is so ingrained to the economic life of Silicon Valley that the view from Hilda Balakhane's storefront is hardly remarkable anymore.

Balakhane and her husband, Albert Sedighpour, own Fantasy Collection, a store in a nondescript strip mall on Union Avenue that sells unique gifts -- Persian CDs, videos, crossword puzzles, books, evil eyes and other charms, and a vast array of pots to cook Persian rice dishes. The store is stacked high with the ceremonial objects crucial to any Persian wedding. People come from as far as Sacramento and Monterey to rent or buy, but also just to hear their own language spoken.

Fantasy Collection "is like the home to a lot of homesicks who come here," Balakhane said in her store one recent afternoon.

Looking out toward Union Avenue, Balakhane has a view of an Indian-owned liquor store, a Palestinian-owned food market, a Vietnamese-owned nail salon, a Mexican taqueria, a Brazilian self-defense school and Ed's Gourmet, a restaurant owned by Korean-born Eddie Ha.

On any afternoon, a visitor to the plaza might hear Arabic, Vietnamese, Hindi, Farsi, Spanish, Hebrew, Mandarin -- and always English. Ha says 90 percent of his customers are white. Even with the growth in non-English-speaking households in Silicon Valley, census data says the number of bilingual Asian and European-language households has grown more since 2000.

Allen Lin says when Chinese merchants ask him to make a sign in Mandarin, he urges them to use English whenever possible.

"I tell them this is still America," Lin said. Often it's not possible to fit both languages on a sign because zoning regulations limit the size, forcing businesses to choose. About 60 percent of Lin's business is Mandarin, but Lin said the split is slowly shifting toward English.

"The higher educated Asian people," he said, "they don't need to rely on the Chinese language to communicate anymore."
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Old August 10th, 2007, 05:39 PM   #2
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Santa Clara County adding Asians at nation's fastest pace

Considering the $880,000 median home price in Santa Clara County, this is impressive

Santa Clara County adding Asians at nation's fastest pace
BIRTHS, ECONOMY, IMMIGRATION FUEL CONTINUING RISE
By Mike Swift
Mercury News
Article Launched: 08/09/2007 01:31:31 AM PDT

For a suburban county smaller than multi-ethnic urban giants like Los Angeles, Miami-Dade and Queens, N.Y., Santa Clara County recorded a notable population milestone last year: It gained more Asians than any county in the United States.

Population estimates being released today by the U.S. Census Bureau say Santa Clara County gained nearly 18,000 new Asian residents in the year ending July 1, 2006, a 3.3 percent increase from 2005. That was nearly 2,000 more than the U.S. county with the second-largest growth, Los Angeles.


Santa Clara County's Asian population has jumped by 20 percent, or about 91,000 people, so far this decade, the Census Bureau estimates. The county is fast overtaking San Francisco, with more than a century of Asian history, as the county in the continental United States with the largest share of Asians.

"It points out how unique Santa Clara (county) is and Silicon Valley is in general," said Hans Johnson, a demographer with the Public Policy Institute of California.

Leader in births

Santa Clara County's continuing Asian boom is being fueled by births, immigration and economic growth, demographers say. In California, only Los Angeles County had more Asian births than Santa Clara County's 8,395 in 2005, according to state Department of Public Health records. And although Asians for now still make up a slightly larger share of the population in San Francisco, a baby born there is less likely to be Asian than one born in Santa Clara County.

The booming Asian population is diversifying the culture, forcing non-Asians to adapt and spawning business opportunities across ethnic lines.

Loann Tran, a real estate agent with Judy Wang Realtors in Milpitas and San Jose, says an influx of young Asian families buying homes has insulated her from some of the pain of this year's real estate slowdown.

"Most of the buyers are either from China or India; they are a majority of those that are still buying," said Tran, whose clientele is predominantly Asian.

There are now about 40 Asian ethnic media outlets based in the South Bay, including multiple newspapers serving South Asians, Vietnamese and Chinese readers, according to New American Media, a San Francisco-based collaboration of ethnic media organizations.

Wells Fargo Bank this year began outdoor advertising in all-Chinese characters in San Jose neighborhoods with large numbers of Chinese speakers. "You're seeing more of a concerted focus and effort to reach out to customers and those that may be willing to do business with Wells Fargo in their language of choice," said Chris Hammond, a Wells Fargo vice president.

To be sure, Santa Clara County's large Asian population is not new. But in informal discussions this week, residents said the volume of the growth and the persistent evolution of the South Bay's population over the past decade and a half continue to rewrite personal and business relationships in myriad ways.

"I'm going to a Vietnamese restaurant right now, and I'm going to order in Vietnamese," said Alex Rodriguez of San Jose, a Mexican-American business developer. He took college courses to learn Vietnamese because of religious outreach he does as a Jehovah's Witness.

Growing pains

Mike Riggsby, co-owner of West Coast Store Fixtures, a San Jose company that sells everything from store counters to mannequins, said he is having to learn new ways of bargaining and negotiating on the job. He estimates half his customers are now Asian, up 50 percent in the past decade.

"I'm learning as I'm going along," Riggsby said. "It's us understanding them and them understanding our culture, and working together so we don't offend each other."

Nevertheless, he still has misunderstandings, and it bothers him sometimes when customers speak to one another in a language he doesn't understand.

A fourth-generation Californian who is ethnically Chinese, Cindy Colbert of Campbell often felt out of place as a baby boomer growing up in San Jose. She thinks the growth of the Asian population has made people here less likely to stereotype.

"When I was growing up, you needed to blend in - you needed to be white. If you weren't white, you stuck out like a sore thumb," said Colbert, whose great grandfather came to California from China to work on the railroads.

"I used to walk up to the supermarket checkout and the clerk would be hostile until I opened my mouth and he saw I was a native English-speaker," she said. "They are kind of more accepting now because of the volume of (Asian) people here."

Five of the 10 U.S. counties with the largest Asian population growth in the past year were in California, including Santa Clara and Alameda counties. Asian immigrants have been somewhat slower than Latinos to spread out across the United States, demographers say.

Asians "are still very heavily attracted to areas which have been the traditional gateways to the United States," said Bill Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

From Chinese actresses like Gong Li starring in mainstream Hollywood movies like "Miami Vice," to the rise of five-star Asian restaurants and the ubiquity of Pokemon, marketing experts say there is increasing cross-pollination between Asian and non-Asian cultures across the country, especially in places like the South Bay.

Mainstream absorption

Conventional wisdom has been that the rapid growth of ethnic supermarkets like 99 Ranch Market would make them takeover targets for mainstream supermarket chains, said Saul Gitlin, executive vice president with Kang & Lee, a New York advertising firm that helps organizations from AT&T to the NBA target Asian consumers. But Gitlin isn't sure that will happen.

"I can't tell you it'll be the mainstream stores that acquire the Asian stores. It could very well be the reverse," Gitlin said.

Lee's Sandwiches, a chain of Vietnamese eateries headquartered in San Jose, began in 1983 with a largely Vietnamese clientele, said Jimmy Le, assistant to the chief executive. Those stores featured an array of traditional Vietnamese foods and flavors.

But its newer stores are intended to feel more like standard American fast-food outlets. The chain has now expanded to Arizona and Texas and will open in Oklahoma City this year.

"No matter what nationality you are, everyone is willing to try new things," Le said. "Our focus is not just Vietnamese customers or Asians any more, but any nationality. Just like McDonald's or Burger King."





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Contact Mike Swift at mswift@mercurynews.com or (408) 271-3648.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 08:21 PM   #3
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You'd think it was finally time for a proper Vietnam Town, eh? All we have is the mid-90s-looking Grand Century Mall (which is still nice).
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Old August 10th, 2007, 10:19 PM   #4
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Grand Century Mall! Haven't been there in ages.

Anyway, the article is hardly a surprise. People in Hong Kong all know about De Anza College and Cupertino (high school students)... and all want to go there.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 11:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gladisimo View Post
Grand Century Mall! Haven't been there in ages.

Anyway, the article is hardly a surprise. People in Hong Kong all know about De Anza College and Cupertino (high school students)... and all want to go there.
People in Hong Kong aspire to attend a community college in Cupertino???
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Old August 10th, 2007, 11:56 PM   #6
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How is this unique? Asians are booming in population everywhere!
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Old August 11th, 2007, 02:46 AM   #7
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Quote:
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How is this unique? Asians are booming in population everywhere!
Maybe you missed the suffix "-est."
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Old August 11th, 2007, 05:40 AM   #8
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Yeah...maybe I did.
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Old August 12th, 2007, 10:38 PM   #9
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County Population Projections by Race/Ethnicity:

http://ca.rand.org/stats/popdemo/popproj.html
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Old August 13th, 2007, 04:01 AM   #10
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I would rather have Asians then Mexicans.
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Old August 13th, 2007, 04:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cajun504 View Post
I would rather have Asians then Mexicans.
How enlightened of you.
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Old August 13th, 2007, 04:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn View Post
How enlightened of you.
日本人ですか。
日本語を話しますか。
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Old August 13th, 2007, 04:57 AM   #13
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いや、アメリカ人だよ、出身はボストンじゃん。でも6年間ぐらい日本に住んでいた。やっぱり日本語しゃべるけど、まだまだだよ!
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Old August 13th, 2007, 05:03 AM   #14
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そおですか

Please come to visit japan forum



I have many thread pictures in japan forum

Please come to comment in
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=510352

and
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=508487

And help with ideas for inactivity here
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showth...=505103&page=2

Quote:
I would rather have Asians then Mexicans.
Please do not show racism

Last edited by Hanshin-Tigress; August 13th, 2007 at 05:22 AM.
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Old August 13th, 2007, 06:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cajun504 View Post
I would rather have Asians then Mexicans.
Asians then Mexicans? Wow, you're really pro immigration!
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Old August 13th, 2007, 07:30 PM   #16
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"neither borders nor nations nor patriotism?"


sounds like a Communist
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Old August 13th, 2007, 07:34 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Asians then Mexicans? Wow, you're really pro immigration!
hahaha
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Old August 13th, 2007, 08:07 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Stark View Post
"neither borders nor nations nor patriotism?"


sounds like a Communist
eww, communism is so last century!! in fact, i would say it's the capitalists ideal state of the world. so, the opposite of what you thought
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Old August 14th, 2007, 03:29 AM   #19
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Quote:
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eww, communism is so last century!! in fact, i would say it's the capitalists ideal state of the world. so, the opposite of what you thought
That was my initial reaction as well.

Remember, the state is not your friend.
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Old August 14th, 2007, 06:00 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cajun504 View Post
I would rather have Asians then Mexicans.
¡in this country we speak inglés!

¡learn it!
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