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Identifying and Definitional Attributes
QH 040722 v2
Data Element
Data Element
The language (including sign language) most preferred by the person for communication.
Health and welfare services
Preferred language (6-digit)
Representational Attributes
Numeric Character
Permissible Values


A valid code from the current corporate reference data system (CRDS) Language Coding Index data set maintained by Statistical Standards and Strategies, Statistical Services Branch (SSB).
Supplementary Values


Collection and Usage Attributes
Preferred language for communication may be a language other than English even where the person can speak fluent English.

This data element is a Queensland Health (QH) modified version of the Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL) Coding Index which allows the use of synonyms and sub-languages that map to a core language category (e.g. Sardinian to Italian).

The index values comprise a subset of the ASCL 4-digit (core) codes and QH 2-digit (index) codes, which, when combined create unique 6-digit preferred language codes. Double zero (00) index codes represent ASCL broad language categories.

Example of Italian language category codes:
Core Index Preferred language
2401 00 240100 Italian
2401 01 240101 Calabrian
2401 02 240102 Catanese
2401 03 240103 Sardinian
2401 04 240104 Sicilian

As a person's preferred language for communication may not always be identical to a 4-digit classification category, the Coding Index provides a link to an appropriate classification category.

A classification is used to aggregate responses for statistical reporting purposes and contains terms such as Not elsewhere classified, etc. Current business needs for recording language within client interface applications are not well served by the use of a classification structure. The index approach allows a client's language to be documented at an appropriate level of granularity, and provides for easier assignment yet maintains compliance with the national standard in relation to collection of language data.

Supplementary Codes For Inadequate Data:
These codes commence with 000 and facilitate the coding of data such as inadequately described languages, etc., which contain insufficient information in that a language code cannot be allocated.

000000 Inadequately Described
To be used when insufficient preferred language information is provided or the information is unknown (e.g. when a person is unconscious).

000109 Non Verbal, so described
To be used when communication is by other than verbal means (e.g. facial expression, body language, gesture). Does not include sign language.

000200 Not Stated
To be used when no preferred language information is provided (e.g. when a person refuses to provide the information).

Supplementary Codes To Preserve Data That Might Otherwise Be Lost:
These codes commence with 000 and are used to preserve data relating to meaningful data that would otherwise be lost (that is, they would be allocated other incoherent or inadequately described codes).

000101 Aphasic
000102 Autistic
000103 Baby talk
000104 Deaf
000105 Doesn't talk
000106 Infant
000107 Mute
000108 Newborn
000110 Speech impediment
000400 Cypriot, so described
000500 Creole, nfd
000600 French Creole, nfd
000700 Spanish Creole, nfd
000800 Portuguese Creole, nfd
000900 Pidgeon, nfd
000901 Pidgin, nfd
CYH DSS: Essential requirement should not be null.

Clinical Costing Data Repository (CCDR):
Must not be null.

Queensland Hospital Admitted Patient Data Collection (QHAPDC):
Must not be null for public hospitals.
Validated against a list of language codes.
This data element is not collected for private facilities.
The question that should be asked is 'What is your preferred language for communicating when receiving health care services?'

The reference to 'receiving heath care services' will assist in advising that the question relates to their preferred language for communicating in a health setting as opposed to at home or any other general social interaction.
This data element is an important indicator of ethnicity, especially for persons born in non-English-speaking countries. It assists in the planning and provision of multilingual services and facilitate program and service delivery for migrants and other non-English speakers.
Relational Attributes
Related Metadata References

Related Metadata References_IR

  • 1 - 4
ViewRelationshipMetadata Item TypeMetadata Item SubtypeNameIdentifier & VersionApproval Status
SupersedesData ElementData ElementPerson-preferred language (ASCL 2005 Index)QH 040722 Version 1Superseded
Has been superseded byData ElementData ElementPerson-preferred language (ASCL 2016 Index)QH 040722 Version 3Current
Is mappable toData ElementData ElementPerson-preferred language (ASCL 2011)QH 041586 Version 2Superseded
Relates toData ElementData ElementPerson-country of birth (SACC 2011)QH 040161 Version 6Superseded
Implementation in Metadata Sets


  • 1 - 2
ViewMetadata Item TypeMetadata Item SubtypeNameIdentifer & VersionObligationApproval StatusEffective FromEffective To
Information AssetData CollectionQueensland Hospital Admitted Patient Data Collection (QHAPDC)QH 020001 Version 1MandatorySuperseded01-Jul-201230-Jun-2017
Data Supply RequirementHHS Service AgreementQueensland Hospital Admitted Patient Data Collection (QHAPDC) Public Hospital Services Data Supply Requirement (DSR) 2016-2017QH 020314 Version 1MandatorySuperseded01-Jul-201630-Jun-2017
Source and Reference Attributes
Australian Bureau of Statistics
ABS cat. no. 1267.0. Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL) Coding Index 2011 (Second edition, Revision 1)