Knowledge of non-official languages of person

Status: This standard was approved as a departmental standard on April 20, 2009.


Knowledge of non-official languages refers to whether the person can conduct a conversation in a language other than English or French. For a child who has not yet learned to speak, this includes languages that the child is learning to speak at home. The number of languages that can be reported may vary between surveys, depending on the objectives of the survey.

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

Conformity to relevant internationally recognized standards

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.


Relation to previous version

  • Knowledge of non-official languages of person April 20, 2009 to current

    This is a revision of the previous standard Non-official language. Information has been added regarding children who have not yet learned to speak. Previously, there was no standard collapsed classification, users being advised instead to use English and French and the 10 to 15 languages reported with the highest incidence for the given geographic area. A classification of the number of non-official languages known has been added.

  • Non-official language July 15, 1998 to April 19, 2009
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