Australian Bureau of Statistics
1291.0 - A Guide to Major ABS Classifications, 1998
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/09/1998
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The Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL) has been developed by the ABS in order to satisfy wide community interest in the languages spoken by the Australian population, and to meet growing statistical and administrative needs. The range of languages separately identified in the classification is suitable and appropriate for the presentation of statistics about languages used in Australia and at the same time provides an overview of the world's languages within a coherent framework.
The ASCL is intended for use in the collection, aggregation and dissemination of data relating to the language use of the Australian population. The range of languages spoken by Australians provides a useful indicator of aspects of the ethnic and cultural diversity of Australian society. Data classified by language will assist in the planning and provision of multilingual services and facilitate program and service delivery for speakers of languages other than English. The ASCL will be a useful tool in social research and will provide a stable underpinning for related concepts such as ethnicity, ancestry, etc.
Although the ASCL is intended to classify entities defined as languages, the base level units are not all of the same order. The base level units include:
Structure of the classification
The ASCL has a hierarchy consisting of three levels:
The 9 Broad Groups of the classification are:
A Coding Index has been included in the publication to enable responses in statistical and administrative collections to be assigned accurately and quickly to the appropriate category of the classification. It contains a comprehensive list of the most probable responses to questions relating to language usage and their correct classification codes.
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 193 Languages or third level units.
The following example illustrates the coding scheme:
Further information may be obtained through the following products:
ASCL release date:
The ASCL was released on 13th January 1997.
Classification and Data Standards
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This page last updated 20 January 2006
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