LONDON — Polish is the second most common language spoken in England, according to statistics published Wednesday, a dramatic illustration of the wave of immigration that has brought nearly 1 million Eastern Europeans to the UK over the past decade.
Britain’s Office of National Statistics said in its most recent report that Polish was considered the ‘‘main language’’ by nearly 550,000 people in England and Wales, or roughly 1 percent of the population. Because statisticians only began asking about foreign language use in the most recent census, there are no past figures available for use as reference.
Poles began arriving in Britain en masse after 2004, when eight Eastern European nations — Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, and Estonia — joined the European Union, a development that would eventually give their citizens the right to move freely across the continent.
Punjabi was the third most common language spoken in England, with roughly 275,000 people considering it their main language. Urdu, with 270,000 speakers, was the fourth. Both languages are native to India .
The agency said 562,000 people can speak Welsh, if not as their main language.