Mnemonic: main_language_detailed
Applicability: Person
Type: Derived variable


A person's first or preferred language.

This breaks down the responses given in the write-in option "Other, write in (including British Sign Language)".


Total number of categories: 95

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

*Students and schoolchildren living away during term-time, and children aged 2 years and under.

View all main language (detailed) classifications.


Read about how we developed and tested the questions for Census 2021.

Comparability with the 2011 Census

Highly comparable

What does highly comparable mean?

A variable that is highly comparable means that it can be directly compared with the variable from the 2011 Census. The questions and options that people could choose from may be slightly different, for example the order of the options may be swapped around, but the data collected is the same.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland comparisons

Broadly comparable

The main languages included in the variable for England and Wales differ from those included in variables produced by Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What does broadly comparable mean?

A variable that is broadly comparable means that outputs from Census 2021 in England and Wales can generally be compared with Scotland and Northern Ireland. Differences in how the data were collected or presented may reduce the ability to fully harmonise on outputs, but some harmonisation is still expected.

Find out more about variables produced for Census 2021 in Northern Ireland and Census 2022 in Scotland.

Census 2021 data that uses this variable

We use variables from Census 2021 data to show findings in different ways.

You can:

Alternatively, you can also create a custom dataset.

Other datasets that use this variable