Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada
Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

2006 Census: Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006, by Language: Definitions and Notes


  • Allophone: Person of a mother tongue other than English or French
  • Anglophone: Person of English mother tongue
  • Bilingualism: Ability to conduct a conversation in both official languages
  • Chinese languages: Consists of the following languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Taiwanese, Chaochow (Teochow), Fukien and Shanghainese, as well as a residual category (Chinese languages not otherwise specified)
  • Exogamous couple: Couple in which partners have different mother tongues
  • Francophone: Person of French mother tongue
  • Home language: Language used most often or regularly spoken at home at the time of the census
  • Knowledge of official languages: Ability to conduct a conversation in one or both official languages. It should be noted that this question measures language knowledge rather than actual use of language
  • Landed immigrants: Landed immigrants are people who have been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities
  • Language group: Population with a common mother tongue
  • Language spoken regularly at home: In addition of the language spoken most often at home
  • Language transfer: Use of a language most often at home that differs from the mother tongue
  • Main home language: Language spoken most often at home
  • Mother tongue: First language learned at home during childhood and still understood by the individual at the time of the census
  • Non-official languages: Any language other than English or French
  • Official languages: English and French
  • Other languages: Non-official languages
  • Recent immigrants: Population that arrived in Canada during the five years preceeding the census. For the 2006 Census, recent immigrants are landed immigrants who arrived in Canada between January 1, 2001 and Census Day, May 16, 2006

Methodological notes

At census time, most respondents report only one mother tongue or home language, providing thus a single response. However, some of them provide a multiple response. That is, they report more than one mother tongue or home language.

To simplify the analysis, in most of the statistics used in this report, the multiple responses were equally distributed among the languages reported. For example, if a given number of respondents provided English and French as their mother tongue or home language, half were assigned to the 'English' category and half to the 'French' category. The same procedure was followed for multiple responses which included an official language and a non-official language.

When the analysis was done for one specific language group, all responses (single and multiple) corresponding to that language were taken into account to establish its relative share based on the 2006 Census data. For example, to establish the proportion of people with 'Spanish' as mother tongue in the total population of a census metropolitan area, all responses including 'Spanish', were taken into account if they were reported alone or with English or French.

In the case of language transfer, which refers to a language other than the mother tongue being the one that is used most often at home, only single responses were taken into account.