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Awkward questions: language issues in the 2011 census in England

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number2
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)181-193
Early online date30/06/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The 2011 Census in England broke new ground, as a question about language had never previously been asked. After stakeholder consultations and a series of trials, the census authority decided on two questions based on earlier censuses in the USA: one about the respondent’s ‘main language’ and another about proficiency in English. This paper provides a critique of the census questions, showing how the pressure to produce questions which were straightforward to answer and consistent with the predominant monolingual ideology led to the choice of two questions which were problematic in different ways. This raises doubts about the validity of the questions themselves and the usefulness of the data collected.

Bibliographic note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor //////