1267.0 - Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL), 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/07/2016   
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A minor review of the Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL) was undertaken to:

  • separately identify emerging languages, based on changes in immigration patterns in Australia
  • improve the coding index
  • rename a number of categories to make the names more accurate
  • identify diminishing languages in Australia
  • improve the profile and coverage of Australian Indigenous languages based on stakeholder submissions, previous Census of Population and Housing responses and information about Indigenous language revival projects.

The review was an update only; there was no attempt to review the conceptual model underpinning the classification or to make major structural changes.


The following research activities were undertaken when reviewing ASCL 2011.

Statistical analysis

Analysis of the aggregated responses to the 2011 Census of Population and Housing language question was undertaken. Languages within 'not elsewhere classified' categories which clearly recorded over 100 responses were added as new categories. Some exceptions were made if a language was of specific interest, such as Australian Indigenous languages, where the criterion for separate identification is three or more speakers.


External research was conducted to:
  • confirm the appropriate terminology to be used for categories in the classification and to assess the accuracy of the coding of languages at the broad and narrow group and language levels
  • assess the accuracy of code assignments and linkages
  • identify Australian Indigenous languages.

As a part of the Federal Government's approach to Closing the Gap, Australian Indigenous languages are supported through the Indigenous Languages and Arts (ILA) program. This program assists the revival and maintenance of Australian Indigenous languages by supporting community based language projects and resources. Australian Indigenous languages were investigated through the ILA program, queries from users of ASCL, and the online Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages database. Languages data and speaker numbers found in these sources were compared with information gathered through general research of Government, Australian Indigenous language, interpreter and academic sources.

Issues relating to non-Indigenous languages were identified from queries and submissions. Language data, including alternative spellings were investigated on the 'Ethnologue' database and other external web sites.

Stakeholder Input

Relevant agencies, peak bodies and individuals with language expertise who had participated in the 2011 review were invited to make submissions to this review. In addition, the review was publicised on the ABS website inviting submissions from any interested party.

Consideration of suggestions received was limited to:
  • speaker numbers
  • new languages spoken in Australia
  • growth and decline of languages, including Australian Indigenous languages
  • index coverage
  • alternative language names and spellings.

Submissions were analysed and reviewed and, where necessary, appropriate changes to the classification were made.

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