Australian Bureau of Statistics
1264.0 - Language Variables, 1997
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/05/1997
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The classification criteria
16. The Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL), Second Edition (ABS cat. no. 1267.0) is used when collecting, aggregating and disseminating data on language usage in Australia. Two classification criteria are used in the ASCL to form the categories of the classification:
17. Further details regarding the classification criteria used in the language classification can be found in the ASCL.
The standard classification
18. When collecting, aggregating and disseminating data relating to the variable First Language Spoken, the ASCL is used. With the exception of the Yolngu Matha languages grouping, this classification has a three-level hierarchical structure. For Narrow Group 82 Yolngu Matha an extra level has been added between the narrow group and the language levels of the classification in the second edition. These 'extra level' categories are meaningful and useful groups of base level units. Taken together the 'extra level' categories form the narrow group. Nine 'extra level' categories have been included for the narrow group. The extra level is identified by a three-digit code, the first two digits of which identify the narrow group.
23. One, two and four-digit codes are assigned to the first, second and third-level units of the classification respectively. The first digit identifies the broad group in which each language or narrow group is contained. The first two digits taken together identify the Narrow Group in which each Language is contained. The four-digit codes represent each of the 364 Languages or base level units. In the exceptional Narrow Group 82 of the ASCL, Second Edition, the first three digits identify the third level classification groupings of languages while the four digit code identifies each specific language (see 24 b).
25. Further details regarding the code structure can be found in the ASCL.
Residual categories and codes
26. In narrow groups, a four-digit code, consisting of the two digits of the narrow group code, followed by the digits '99', is reserved as a residual 'not elsewhere classified' (n.e.c.) or 'other' category. Additionally, in the third level classification groups of Narrow Group 82, the three digit group code is followed by '9' to denote a 'not elsewhere classified' (n.e.c.) or 'other' category. All languages which are not separately identified in the classification are notionally included in the residual 'n.e.c.' or 'other' category of the narrow group to which they relate.
29. The supplementary codes are of two types:
30. Codes ending in zero are described as 'not further defined' (n.f.d.) codes and are used to code responses to a question about language which cannot be coded to the detailed (language) level of the classification but which can be coded to a higher level of the classification structure.
31. Four-digit codes commencing with '000' are supplementary codes included for operational purposes to facilitate the coding of responses such as inadequately described languages, etc., which present particular problems in that they cannot be allocated a language, narrow group or broad group code.
32. Further details regarding the supplementary codes (eg. 'not further defined' (n.f.d.), 'inadequately described' and 'not stated') used when coding language data can be found in the ASCL.
Scope of the variable
33. The variable First Language Spoken applies to all persons.
Application of the classification to other variables
34. The ASCL can be used for a variety of variables. These include: Main Language Spoken at Home, Main Language Other Than English Spoken at Home, Language(s) Spoken at Home, Language of Greatest Competency, and Preferred Language.
35. Language responses to the First Language Spoken question are coded to the ASCL using the guidelines detailed in that classification. Each language response is matched with an entry in the ASCL Coding Index to determine the correct code.
36. A coding index has been developed to assist in the implementation and use of the ASCL and should be used when coding responses to questions relating to First Language Spoken. It contains a comprehensive list of the most probable responses to questions relating to language and their correct classification codes. Use of the coding index enables responses to be coded accurately and quickly to the appropriate category of the classification.
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