Knowledge of official languages of person

Status: This was the departmental standard from April 20, 2009 to December 03, 2015.


Knowledge of official languages refers to whether the person can conduct a conversation in English, French, in both or in neither language. For a child who has not yet learned to speak, this includes languages that the child is learning to speak at home.

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

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 2, 2008. The UN recommendations suggest three types of language data that can be collected in censuses, including "ability to speak one or more designated languages". As the languages of interest would vary from country to country, no classification is recommended. Finally, the UN recommends that the criteria for determining language for children not yet able to speak should be clearly indicated and this is done in this standard.


Relation to previous version

  • Knowledge of official languages of person December 04, 2015 to current

    This is an update to 'Knowledge of official languages of person'. The definition of 'Knowledge of official languages' and its associated classification have been revised.

  • Knowledge of official languages of person April 20, 2009 to December 03, 2015

    This is a revision of the previous standard 'Official language'. Information has been added regarding children who have not yet learned to speak.

  • Official language July 15, 1998 to April 19, 2009
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