All languages spoken at home of person

Status: This standard was approved as a departmental standard on September 24, 2021.


All languages spoken at home refers to all languages that the person speaks at home on a regular basis at the time of data collection.

Person refers to an individual and is the unit of analysis for most social statistics programs.


'All languages spoken at home' may be analyzed using the 'List of languages'. Here, if the person reported two or more languages, they are classified using the appropriate 'multiple responses' category. Using this approach, the sum of the count of all categories is equal to the size of the total population. The category, 'none', is not used.

'All languages spoken at home' may also be analyzed by looking at each language separately. Here, the 'List of languages, total responses' should be referred to. This approach is used to look at all responses of a specific language, regardless of whether or not another language was also reported by the same person.

In this second approach, counts are based on the number of times a language was reported, that is, each instance provided for each language spoken at home. Given that a person could have reported more than one language spoken at home, the counts for the specific languages cannot be meaningfully combined, as individuals could be included in the count for more than one language. Hence, the sum of the count of all languages could be greater than the total population.

Conformity to relevant internationally recognized standards

This standard is compatible with the recommendations for censuses contained in the United Nations' "Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, Revision 3", 2017. The UN recommendations suggest four types of language data that can be collected in censuses. One of these is 'usual language' which the UN defines as "the language currently spoken, or most often spoken, by the individual in his or her present home". The UN does not provide a standard classification of languages. They recommend that when compiling data on usual language each language that is numerically important in the country should be shown, not merely the dominant language. This is done in this standard through the detailed version of the list of languages.

The List of languages is based on the international standard ISO 639 presented in the Ethnologue, using those categories that are applicable to the Canadian population and adding supplementary detail on Indigenous languages spoken in Canada.


Additional information


Relation to previous version

  • All languages spoken at home of person September 24, 2021 to current

    This is the current standard.

Date modified: