Language in the 2021/22 Census

What questions were asked on Language?

The question on language reflected language use in the different countries in the UK.  In England two questions were asked.

In Wales there were also questions about the Welsh language.

In Scotland there were also questions on Scottish Gaelic / Scots and British Sign Language.

In Northern Ireland there were also questions on competence and frequency of use of Irish and Ulster-Scots.

How do the questions transfer to variables and tables?

The language questions are used to derive variables for both individuals and households. The individual response summarises the detailed main language in England.  There are 93 categories with some summary categories for each geographical region.  In Wales there is a summary of competence in Welsh covering speaking, reading and writing. Household variables including speaking English in England and English or Welsh in Wales and an additional. Table 11 summarises multi-lingual competence.

How does it compare to previous censuses?

The open question is reported as previously as are the household languages.  The addition of competency in speaking, reading and writing in Scotland and Northern Ireland will provide new variables.

What impact might the COVID pandemic have had on Language?




Code Language
UK languages
1 English (English or Welsh in Wales)
2 Welsh or Cymraeg (in England only)
3 Gaelic (Irish)
4 Gaelic (Scottish)
5 Manx Gaelic
6 Gaelic (Not otherwise specified)
7 Cornish
8 Scots
9 Ulster Scots
10 Gypsy or Traveller languages
European languages
11 French
12 Portuguese
13 Spanish
14 Italian
15 German
16 Polish
17 Slovak
18 Czech
19 Romanian
20 Lithuanian
21 Latvian
22 Hungarian
23 Bulgarian
24 Greek
25 Dutch
26 Swedish
27 Danish
28 Finnish
29 Estonian
30 Slovenian
31 Maltese
32 Any other EU language
33 Albanian
34 Ukrainian
35 Any other Eastern European language (non EU)
36 Northern European language (non EU)
37 Other European language (combination of EU and non-EU): Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, and Montenegrin
38 Other European language (non-national): Any Romani language
39 Other European language (non-national): Yiddish
Other language
40 Russian
41 Turkish
42 Arabic
West or central Asian language
43 Hebrew
44 Kurdish
45 Persian or Farsi
46 Pashto
47 Any other West or Central Asian language
South Asian language
48 Urdu
49 Hindi
50 Panjabi
51 Pakistani Pahari (with Mirpuri and Potwari)
52 Bengali (with Sylheti and Chatgaya)
53 Gujarati
54 Marathi
55 Telugu
56 Tamil
57 Malayalam
58 Sinhala
59 Nepalese
60 Any other South Asian language
East Asian language
61 Mandarin Chinese
62 Cantonese Chinese
63 All other Chinese
64 Japanese
65 Korean
66 Vietnamese
67 Thai
68 Malay
69 Tagalog or Filipino
70 Any other East Asian language
Other languages
71 Oceanic or Australian language
72 North or South American language
73 English-based Caribbean Creole
74 Any other Caribbean Creole
African language
75 Amharic
76 Tigrinya
77 Somali
78 Krio
79 Akan
80 Yoruba
81 Igbo
82 Swahili or Kiswahili
83 Luganda
84 Lingala
85 Shona
86 Afrikaans
87 Any other Nigerian language
88 Any other West African language
89 Any other African language
Sign language
90 British Sign Language
91 Any other Sign language
92 Any Sign communication system
93 Other language
-8 Does not apply



Code Welsh skills
0 Can understand spoken Welsh only
1 Can speak, read and write Welsh
2 Can speak but cannot read or write Welsh
3 Can speak and read but cannot write Welsh
4 Can read but cannot speak or write Welsh
5 Can write but cannot speak or read Welsh
6 Can read and write but cannot speak Welsh
7 Can speak and other combinations of skills in Welsh
8 No skills in Welsh
-8 Does not apply


Table 3 – HH_LANGUAGE_5A

Code Household language
1 All adults in household have English in England, or English or Welsh in Wales as a main language
2 At least one but not all adults in household have English in England, or English or Welsh in Wales as a main language
3 No adults in household, but at least one person aged 3 to 15 years, has English in England or English or Welsh in Wales as a main language
4 No people in household have English in England, or English or Welsh in Wales as a main language
-8 Does not apply



Code Multi-language
1 One-person household
2 All household members have the same main language
3 Main language differs between generations, but not within partnerships
4 Main language differs within partnerships
5 Any other combination of multiple main languages
-8 Does not apply