Australian Bureau of Statistics
1200.0.55.005 - Language Standards, 2012, Version 1.1
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/09/2012 First Issue
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First Language Spoken - Underlying Concepts
Name of variable
The name for the variable is First Language Spoken.
Definition of variable
First Language Spoken is defined as the first language a person masters during the language acquisition phase of intellectual development. This would generally be the language spoken in the home by the people who have raised the person from infancy.
Operationally, First Language Spoken is defined as the language the respondent identifies, or remembers, as being the first language which they could understand to the extent of being able to conduct a conversation.
The definition of language is provided in the Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL), 2011 (ABS cat. no. 1267.0)
Discussion of conceptual issues
The concept of first language includes the terms 'native language' and 'mother tongue.' However, within the Australian context 'First Language Spoken' is the appropriate term. The term 'first language' is used in Australian government policy documents and referred to in linguistic journals.
This page last updated 19 March 2014
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