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1267.0 - Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL), 2011  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/08/2011   
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One, two and four digit codes have been assigned to the first, second and third-level units of the classification respectively. The one digit code identifies the broad group in which each narrow group of languages is contained. The two digit codes identify the narrow group in which each language is contained. The four digit codes represent each of the 432 languages.

Three of the narrow groups of Australian Indigenous languages (Narrow Group 81 Arnhem Land and Daly River Region Languages, Narrow Group 82 Yolngu Matha and Narrow Group 83 Arandic) contain an extra level between the narrow group and language levels of the classification. They are identified by a three digit code, the first two digits of which identify the narrow group.

Separately identified languages of the second edition have for the most part retained the same code in this review. Languages identified for the first time have been allocated previously unused codes. The purpose of this is to limit disruption to time series data. The alphabetical order of languages within narrow groups have been disrupted in some instances to keep language codes consistent.

ABS periodically reviews its classifications to take account of relevant changes. The ASCL code scheme is devised so that any future changes to the classification structure are easily accommodated. However, in order that the classification remain standard, users should not make changes to the structure. Users should contact the ABS and identify any apparent problems they encounter in the course of implementation, data collection, or data analysis.


Each narrow group has a residual category, which is a four digit code, consisting of the two digits of the narrow group, followed by 99. These categories are described as 'not elsewhere classified' (nec) categories. All languages which are not separately identified in the classification are included in the residual 'nec' category of the narrow group to which they relate.

Codes are also reserved for residual categories at the narrow group level, consisting of the broad group code followed by 9. They are termed 'Other' and include separately identified languages which do not fit into any of the narrow groups within the broad group. This classification contains seven such residual categories.

Residual categories are part of the ASCL structure and should not be created or used to 'dump' responses which contain insufficient information to code to a separately identified category of the classification.


Supplementary codes are used to process inadequately described responses in statistical collections. The codes are of three types:
  • four digit codes ending with one, two or three zeros
  • four digit codes commencing with three zeros (operational codes)
  • four digit codes commencing with three zeros (special supplementary codes).

Codes ending in zero are described as 'not further defined' (nfd) codes. These codes classify responses to a question about language which cannot be coded to the language level of the classification but which can be coded to a higher level of the classification structure.

Responses which do not relate directly to a particular language category, but which are within the range of languages relating to a particular narrow group, are coded to that narrow group. Such responses are allocated an 'nfd' code consisting of the two digit code of the narrow group followed by 00.

Language responses which do not directly relate to a particular narrow group or language category, but are within the range of languages relating to a particular broad group, are coded to that broad group. These responses are allocated an 'nfd' code consisting of the one digit code of the broad group followed by 000. Language responses which can only be coded at the broad or narrow group levels of the classification can be processed within a collection coded at the four digit level.

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 contain insufficient information to be allocated a language, narrow group or broad group code.

Supplementary codes are not part of the classification structure. They exist for operational reasons only, and no data would be coded to them if sufficiently detailed responses were obtained in all instances. (See full list of Supplementary codes in the ASCL data cube.)

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