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English Other Languages and Diversity in Melbourne

Melbourne languages study reveals cacophony of diversity.  More languages are spoken in Melbourne than there are countries in the world, a cacophony of 251 tongues whose voices stretch to all corners of the city.

It is a thoroughly modern metropolis, a changing city where as older European voices begin to trail off, Mandarin’s volume grows louder, particularly in the inner city.

It’s a city that can be justifiably proud of its linguistic diversity and one whose forefathers might scarcely recognise from the discussions around them. But demographers warn Melbourne’s melting-pot status could be at risk as rising house prices force new migrants into concentrated pockets….



…. “Most American cities – such as Chicago and Washington DC – are very segregated,” he says. “Half the city is white, half the city is black and they are not mixing at all. But Melbourne is very mixed.”…. Since moving to Australia from the US in February, Monash University city science lecturer Meead Saberi has also been analysing Melbourne’s population. His team have created maps that visualise ethnic distribution and he says he was pleasantly surprised to see what the data showed.

But Monash University population researcher Bob Birrell warns economic currents could be pushing language groups towards greater segregation.

“The big picture is quite clear,” he says. “As Melbourne’s population expands very rapidly and competition for housing increases … those with limited resources, particularly recently arrived migrants who are from the family reunion and refugee stream, will have no choice but to move into relatively low-cost middle and outer suburbs.”

He says a widening rich-poor divide and booming house prices could prevent newer migrants from dispersing through the city like earlier generations of Europeans.


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