For Australia’s population of nearly 1.5 million people of Chinese descent, the Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important cultural celebration after Lunar New Year. The festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunisolar calendar, during autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also known as the Moon Festival, the Harvest Moon Festival or the Mooncake Festival, because of the moon-shaped cakes that are traditionally given as gifts during the festival period.

The celebration became popular around 1300 years ago in the time of the Tang Dynasty. It coincides with the end of harvest celebration in the middle of autumn and is traditionally believed to be the day when the full moon shines brightest. It is shrouded in history, traditions and symbolism. It represents an important way for contemporary Chinese people to celebrate and preserve their culture, heritage and community.

These days, perhaps the most commonly known aspect of the celebration is the gifting of mooncakes. These ornate pastries can be filled with red bean or lotus seed paste, or yolks from salted duck eggs. Contemporary pastry chefs are known to get creative with the flavours, experimenting with concoctions such as sweet potato and ginger soup, cream corn soup, black sesame glutinous rice ball and even Beef Wellington.

Colourful lanterns are also an important part of Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations and can be seen hung on trees or buildings in many cities and towns where the festival is celebrated. Hong Kong’s Lee Tung Avenue (LTA) is lined with nearly 1,000 lanterns for the crowds to enjoy and people can even try making their own lanterns. Traditionally the lanterns symbolise family reunion, as they illuminate the way home.

Across China and east Asia, there is huge commercial activity surrounding the celebration and it is spreading with the diaspora. A plethora of luxurious mooncakes are marketed to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore’s trendy elite, elaborate lanterns are sold on the streets of Hong Kong and deluxe Moon Cake gift boxes are even available in Australia.

LEXIGO translator Cecilia Chiu originally hails from Hong Kong and is now based in Tasmania. She shared what the Mid-Autumn Festival means to her and Australia’s Chinese diaspora.

Do you think the Full Moon Festival is important to the Chinese diaspora in Australia?

Every part of our traditions (including Mid-Autumn Festival) is important to us. It is the many different aspects of our traditions that shape our culture. In this sense, yes, the Mid-Autumn Festival is important to us.

How do you celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival?

I have not always celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival since I moved to Tasmania. When friends of the same ethnicity have time, we may have a meal together. Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival becomes a pretext for socialising rather than observing the tradition. 

Last year, our celebration was a bit special. Friends got together and made mooncakes ourselves.

How do celebrations differ for you compared to when you lived in Hong Kong to now living in Australia?

Celebrations in Tasmania are very different from what I used to have in Hong Kong where festive foods and paraphernalia were readily available off the shelf. 

Here in Tasmania, we have to make them our own, such as the lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Festival. We even bake our own mooncakes if we have time. To a certain extent, this is good. Celebration activities here are less commercialised and ‘getting our hands dirty’ makes us appreciate the traditional aspects more.

What's your favourite type of mooncake?

I love the snow skin mooncakes, which is a modern form of mooncake. Snow skin mooncakes are a non-baked mooncake originating from Hong Kong. Unlike the traditional baked mooncakes, snow skin mooncake uses less sugar and fat which is comparatively a healthier food.

There is a legend about mooncakes. It was once a revolutionary vehicle at the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368 CE). Han Chinese concealed messages in the mooncakes (think of it as a forerunner of fortune cookies!) to rebel against the ruling Mongols on Mid-Autumn Day.

Read more about the fascinating history of the Mid-Autumn Festival here.

The 2021 Census results data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics was officially released on 28 June 2022 and provided excellent insight into Australia's population, including data on cultural diversity.

A record number of people and households responded in the 2021 Census period - in fact, a total of 96.1 per cent of Australians responded, and the results showed an increasingly multicultural society.

"This increasingly diverse social and cultural landscape present in the 2021 census is a great strength for Australian society."

The Executive Director of the Australian Multicultural Foundation, Dr Hass Dellal.

The data is a goldmine of statistical information on a range of other topics too, including:

However, for this article, we'll take a closer look at cultural and language diversity indicators to explore the current state of multicultural Australia.

Even then, the depth and breadth of data can be daunting, so this post will attempt to provide some context around Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Australians and how the multicultural landscape is changing.

As a multicultural country, the first release of data from Australia's 2021 Census shows that:

The top five ancestries identified in the 2021 Census were:

  1. 33% English
  2. 29.9% Australian
  3. 9.5% Irish
  4. 8.6% Scottish
  5. 5.5% Chinese

The top five countries of birth outside Australia were:

  1. England
  2. India
  3. China (as the third-largest country of birth, it did not include Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan)
  4. New Zealand
  5. the Philippines

An interesting observation is that the vast majority in this list are officially English-speaking countries (all but China).

Not surprisingly, the most common language spoken at home is English, followed by:

  1. 2.7% Mandarin
  2. 1.4% Arabic
  3. 1.3% Vietnamese
  4. 1.2% Cantonese
  5. 0.9% Punjabi

In contrast to the top 5 countries of birth, 4 of the top 5 countries in this list are non-English speaking countries.

Across Australia, over 5.5 million people speak a language other than English at home, equating to around 21.5% of Australia’s total population of 25.5 million, or over one in five people.

Australian Bureau of Statistics

The language that has seen the most significant increase in use in Australian homes since the last census is Punjabi.

In the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania, Nepali is in the top five most commonly spoken languages, with 1.3% of those populations using it at home.

Across the Australian population, over 5.5 million people speak a language other than English at home, equating to around 21.5% of Australia's total population of 25.5 million, or more than one in five people.

Compared to previous years;

On a global scale, Australia's neighbours Papua New Guinea and Indonesia are the most linguistically diverse countries in the world.

According to the World Economic Forum, 840 languages are spoken in Papua New Guinea, almost 12% of the total number of languages worldwide.

Indonesia has an estimated 711 languages across the archipelago. One theory about why these countries have so many languages is that many of their communities are geographically isolated.

Over 80% of Papua New Guinea's population lives in rural areas, and Indonesia is a collection of thousands of islands.

Indonesia, it's interesting to note, has achieved the impressive feat of establishing a national lingua franca without destroying its linguistic diversity. Australia ranks sixth in the world for linguistic diversity, between the United States in fifth and China in seventh place.

How does Australia's cultural and linguistic diversity compare to other countries?

According to the CIA World Factbook, the latest data on languages spoken at home show that 78.2% of US households speak English only, 13.4% Spanish, 1.1% Chinese and 7.3% other.

Interestingly, the United States has no official national language. English has official status in 32 of 50 states, Hawaiian is an official language in Hawaii, and Alaska has 20 official indigenous languages.

The CIA World Factbook also identifies ethnic groups in the United States as 61.6% White, 18.7% Hispanic (including people of Spanish/Hispanic/Latinx origin), 12.4% Black or African American, 6% Asian, 1.1% Amerindian and Alaska native and 0.2% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.

Over 350 languages are spoken in homes across the United States, and around 44.9 million people or 13.7% of the total US population, were born overseas, according to 2019 statistics.

Statistics on New Zealand's cultural and linguistic diversity are based on their 2018 Census. English is the de facto national language (it does not have legal status as the official language but is spoken by most citizens), spoken by 95.4% of Kiwis.

Maori is legally recognised as an official national language and is spoken by 4% of the population. Other languages spoken in New Zealand include 2.2% Samoan, 2% Northern Chinese, 1.5% Hindi, 1.2% French and 1.1% Yue (a dialect from Southern China).

Kiwis identified as 64.1% European, 16.5% Maori, 4.9% Chinese, 4.7% Indian, 3.9% Samoan, 1.8% Tongan, 1.7% Cook Islands Maori, 1.5% English, 1.5% Filipino, 1% New Zealander and 13.7% other (percentages add up to over 100% because census respondents could identify with more than one cultural identity).

Over a quarter of New Zealand residents, 27.4%, were born overseas.

English and French are the official languages of Canada, with 63.7% of Canadians speaking English at home and 20% speaking French at home, according to the 2016 Census (language statistics from the 2021 Census are due for release in November 2022).

0.3% of Canadians speak an aboriginal language at home. Over 200 languages are spoken in Canada, plus 60 Indigenous languages.

Canada's most common international languages are Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish, Italian, German, Tagalog, Arabic, Portuguese, Polish and Urdu. Of Canada's population of nearly 37 million, over 7 million people, or around 18%, were born overseas.

How can you find more ABS census data and information?

The 2021 Australian Census data illustrates that Australia's cultural and linguistically diverse nation can provide incredible opportunities for businesses and government alike. By understanding the latest census data to communicate and engage more effectively with members of a culturally and linguistically diverse community and with people from diverse backgrounds.

LEXIGO will create more tools, analyses and guides for understanding and making the most of this valuable information to enable effective communication across 171 languages. Check out LEXIGO's guide for choosing languages for your multilingual campaign here.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released most of the 2021 Census data on 28 June 2022, with smaller and more complex topics to be released in late 2022 and early to mid-2023. They will also host online and in-person events around the 2021 Census data release.

Ecommerce localisation is a great way of increasing your online sales. It’s also an effective marketing tool that can help you reach new customers and increase customer satisfaction. Today’s retail industry is largely fought online in the crowded ecommerce marketplace. A multilingual shopper experience is central to any strategy to increase engagement and conversion rates.

With the rise of globalisation and international trade, businesses have started to realise the importance of having a multilingual website. In this article, we share six reasons why ecommerce localisation is vital for your business.

1. Increase Your Online Sales

The most obvious reason to invest in ecommerce localisation? 

Increased online sales.

When it comes to selling products or services on the internet, language plays a major role. As consumers become more familiar with buying across the globe, they are more likely to buy from companies that offer their services in-language.

You don't need to cover every language in the world. Instead, start by targeting the languages that will bring in the most traffic for your products.

Data, such as the most common languages used on the internet, (as listed below) can help you decide which languages they should target to maximise their return on investment. 

1. English (25.9%)
2. Chinese / Mandarin (19.4%)
3. Spanish (7.9%)
4. Arabic (5.2%)
5. Indonesian / Malaysian (4.3%)

This means that if you want to sell your products or services online, then you need to make sure that your website has been translated into the most effective languages possible. The best way to do this is by investing in ecommerce localisations.

2. Reach New Customers

Another benefit of investing in ecommerce localisations is that it will allow you to reach potential new customers who speak languages other than English. This will eventually lead to more leads for your business.

For example, if you are based in Europe but your target audience is mostly located in North America, then you might want to consider translating your site into French, German, Spanish, Italian, etc. You could even go one step further by offering your product or service in all these languages at once. This would mean that you have access to a much larger market than just those living in North America. If you do decide to translate your website into several languages, then you should ensure that you provide translations for every page and every link on your website.

3. Improve Customer Satisfaction

The next advantage of investing in multilingual websites is that it will improve your customer’s overall experience when using your website. The fact that your website is available in several languages means that your visitors will be able to communicate with you in their own native tongue. This will give them a better understanding of what your company offers. By providing your website in multiple languages, you will also save time and money for your customers. They won’t have to spend hours trying to figure out how to navigate through your website. They will simply click “next” and continue browsing without any problems. This leads to a smoother and happier process which will ultimately lead to increased customer satisfaction.

4. Expand Your Brand Awareness

One of the best ways to expand your brand awareness is through social media. However, if your website is not available in multiple languages, then your social media posts will only reach people who know how to read your content in English. If you want to use social media to promote your brand, then you need to think about translating your website into various languages. This will allow you to reach a wider audience and gain more followers on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Some ideas include:

5. Increase Online Visibility

When it comes to driving traffic to your website, there are two main factors that play an important role: SEO and PPC. While both of these methods can help increase your website traffic, the truth is that SEO is far more effective. This is because:

1. People are more comfortable searching for products in their native language.
2. People from different countries and cultures use different phrases when searching for products.
3. Different countries use different search engines by default.

SEO allows you to rank higher on search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., while PPC simply pays you money whenever someone clicks on your ad.  In order to drive traffic to your website, you must first optimise your SEO strategy so that it ranks high on search engine results pages. Once this has been done, you can start paying for ads on popular online advertising networks such as AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook Ads.

6. Make Your Website Easier to Understand

The last reason why you should invest in ecommerce localisation is that it will make your website easier to understand. When someone visits your website for the first time, they will most likely find it difficult to navigate around. They may also struggle to figure out what exactly your company does since they don’t understand any of the language used on your website. By translating your website into different languages, you will make it easy for your customers to find the information they are looking for.

Take your Ecommerce Global

Ecommerce localisation can help you increase your revenue, reach new customers, improve customer satisfaction, expand your brand awareness, and generate more leads. Your business has the potential to build a global brand and make a substantial profit by simply catering your website to different cultures and languages and meeting your consumers halfway. At LEXIGO, we specialise in translating websites and content for businesses and governments so that the language, design, and story match your target audience and help your customers find you online.

Regardless of our careers, most of us write emails, social posts, and text messages every day. The ability to write well is a great skill. However, it takes practice and a clear understanding of proper grammar rules. 

Essentially, writing well requires learning how to edit and proofread. Proofreading can help you increase the understanding of your writing, build trust with your colleagues or customers, and increase the overall quality of your work. 

What is Proofreading?

Proofreading is the process of reviewing a written piece for errors before it is published. This can be done by the author themselves or by another individual. 

Proofreading is important because it helps to ensure that the finished product is accurate and error-free. Errors can vary from minor typos to more significant grammatical mistakes. 

Proofreading can help to make sure that the final piece is polished and professional. It can also help remove any doubt or misunderstanding your writing may have. While it is often considered the last step in the editing process, it is perhaps the most important of written material. 

What is the Difference Between Proofreading and Editing?

Many people use the terms proofreading and editing in the same context, however proofreading and editing don't quite mean the same thing - and they won't produce the same results.

Proofreading is a process of checking for errors in written work. It includes reading, re-reading, and correcting any mistakes that are found. They don’t rewrite entire sections. Proofreaders are looking for specific types of errors. These include spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and formatting issues that could affect the accuracy of the document.

On the other hand, editing involves changing the wording of a piece of writing. For example, if an article needs to be rewritten or changes are required to the structure of the text, then this would be considered editing. Editing is all about ensuring that the meaning and ideas in a piece of writing are conveyed in the best possible manner, for the intended audience.

Let's take a deeper look at why proofreading is a significant step that should never be skipped. 

Reason #1 - Proofreading ensures understanding

When you're reading something for the first time, your brain always tries to make sense of the information and fill in any gaps. This can lead to miscommunication, especially if the text is complex or dense. Proofreading can help to eliminate these errors by allowing you to reread the text with a fresh perspective.

In the age of text messaging and social media, it's easy to let your guard down when it comes to grammar and spelling. However, even the slightest mistake can change the meaning of your message and lead to confusion or even offence. That's why it's essential to always proofread your work before hitting send or publish.

Additionally, a second reading can help clarify any confusion, and it also allows you to catch any errors that may have been missed the first time around. As a result, proofreading can be an essential tool for ensuring understanding, whether you're reading for work or pleasure. 

So next time you're struggling to make sense of a text, remember that proofreading could be the key to unlocking its meaning.

Reason #2 - Proofreading shows you care

You're about to hit send on that all-important email when you notice a tiny typo. Your first instinct might be to ignore it, but resist the urge. Taking the extra time to proofread your message shows that you care about quality and attention to detail. It's a small gesture that can make a big impression.

Of course, proofreading isn't just for email messages. Whether you're writing a cover letter, creating a presentation, or crafting a critical memo, taking the time to check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation shows that you're willing to go the extra mile. It demonstrates that you're taking pride in your work, and it sends a strong signal that you're someone who can be relied on to produce high-quality results.

So next time you're about to click "send," take a few extra minutes to proofread your work. It's a simple way to show that you care.

Reason #3 - One wrong punctuation can make you look silly

Perhaps you’ve seen the silly memes or grammar jokes about how one simple punctuation can change the entire meaning of a sentence. Well, joking aside, it’s absolutely true. 

Consider these:

"Let's eat grandpa."

"Let's eat, grandpa."

One suggests that your grandfather joins you for dinner. The other offers your grandfather as dinner! In a work environment or when writing a technical paper, the wrong punctuation could confuse the reader, which sets off a domino-like effect for the rest of the correspondence. 

Reason #4 - Proofreading removes distractions

If you’ve ever read or heard something that gives you pause, you know how difficult it is to get back into the groove of reading or listening. When someone says something that’s not quite right or writes something that makes you cock your head to the side in confusion, it causes a distraction and takes away from the rest of the material. 

Some see proofreading as a tedious task, but it can be quite helpful in removing distractions and improving clarity. By checking for errors, we can ensure that our writing is free of any potential misinterpretations. In addition, proofreading can also help improve the flow of our writing by providing a consistent level of quality throughout. As a result, proofreading can be an essential tool in helping us focus on the content of our writing and deliver our message in the most effective way possible.

Reason #5 - Proofreading can help you land a job

What happens when a resume comes into a hiring manager's inbox full of grammatical errors? Often, it goes straight into the bin. This makes sense because if someone isn't willing to take the time to ensure their resume is free of mistakes, then they may assume that the person will not take time to do well at their job.  

Whether you're trying to land a job, write a school paper, or apply to live on Mars, take a few extra moments to proofread. If you're not comfortable with your grammar skills, find a friend who is and ask them to help you out. There are also great online tools, like Grammarly, that can help. While tools won’t provide perfect results, they can help you improve your writing and understand proofreading better over time.

Reason #6 - Proofreading builds trust

It’s important to build trust with your audience. Whether you're communicating with customers, colleagues, or investors, it's essential that your written communications are clear, concise, and free of errors. Proofreading is the best way to ensure that your writing is accurate and error-free. 

In a world where we're constantly bombarded with information, those who take the time to proofread their work can stand out. By taking the time to proofread your work before you hit "send," you're sending a message that you care about quality and accuracy. As someone who takes care of their written communications, you're more likely to gain your reader's trust.

Proofreading is an essential step in the writing process because it ensures that your work is error-free. Professional proofreaders can help ensure that your writing will be polished and professional. If you want your writing to be the best it can be, always proofread it carefully before submitting or publishing it.

Have you ever wondered why Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year? Or why Christmas is always on the same date but Easter changes? Ramadan is on a different date every year, too. Well, it depends on which calendar you're using.

The calendar now in general use worldwide, for secular purposes at least, is called the Gregorian Calendar (we’ll discuss the exceptions of Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal and Ethiopia further down). It is a solar dating system proclaimed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. It was based on the Julian calendar established by Julius Caesar, on the advice of Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes, who introduced the Egyptian solar calendar. 

This system divided the year into 12 months which all had 30 or 31 days except for February, which had 28 days, and 29 days in every fourth year. The Julian measurement calculated the solar year as 365.25 days, however it is actually 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45.25 seconds. 

By Pope Gregory’s time, the date did not match the season, so he advanced the date by 10 days. Also, in the Gregorian calendar, century years cannot be leap years unless they are exactly divisible by 400 (such as 1600 and 2000).

The Egyptian exception

The Ancient Egyptian Calendar, unlike its contemporaries that focussed on the Moon, was based on the Sun and was the predecessor to the Julian Calendar. It had 365 days and 12 months, each consisting of three, 10-day weeks. The last five days of the year were the birthdays of five deities. There were three seasons, however the calendar got further and further away from correlating with the seasons because they did not have a leap year.

The Coptic Calendar

The Egyptian exception leads us to the Coptic Calendar. When Pope Gregory implemented the Gregorian Calendar in 1582, Christians who were not aligned with the Roman Catholic Church decided to stick with the Julian calendar (at least initially). The Coptic Orthodox Church, a Christian church founded in Egypt by the Apostle Mark, has its own calendar based on the Ancient Egyptian system. 

According to the Coptic calendar, the first day of the year is 11 September, or 12 September in leap years and Christmas – the birth of Jesus – is celebrated on 7 January. Easter – when Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead – is celebrated on the same day as some Orthodox Easters (determined by the Julian calendar). In contemporary Egypt, Easter Monday is a public holiday and it also coincides with Sham El Nessim, a national festival marking the start of Spring that dates back to ancient times.

The Ethiopian Calendar

The Ethiopian Calendar, also known as the Ge’ez or Amharic Calendar, is based on the ancient Coptic Calendar. 

It also has 12, 30-day months plus five or six days, sometimes known as the thirteenth month, to match the Sun's cycles. Like the Coptic Calendar, Ethiopian New Year, called Enkutatash, is celebrated on 11 or 12 September according to the Gregorian Calendar. Another big celebration for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians is Meskel, celebrated on 27 or 28 September to commemorate the Finding of the True Cross, on which Jesus was believed to be crucified.

Ge’ez is the ancient language of northern Ethiopia and southern Eritrea. Amharic, Afan Oromo, Afar, Somali and Tigrigna are the official languages of contemporary Ethiopia (the later four were added in 2020).

Nepal’s nuances

Nepal is another country that does not use the Gregorian Calendar. The official calendar is called Bikram Sambat or Vikram Samvat. It’s a lunar Hindu calendar used in Nepal and some Indian states. 

There’s also Nepal Sambat, another lunar calendar used to determine the dates of religious festivals, birthdays and death anniversaries. One of the most important festivals in Nepal is Dashain, which generally happens from late September to mid-October at the end of the monsoon season.

Chinese New Year

Another significant date celebrated in many countries around the world is Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year. The Gregorian calendar is used in China for secular purposes, however the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar determines important festival dates such as Lunar New Year. 

Lunisolar calendars use the Moon to calculate months and the Sun to calculate years. This method was also used historically in the Middle East, except Egypt, and Ancient Greece.

Read more about Chinese New Year here and here.

The Islamic Hijri Calendar

The world’s approximately 1.8 billion people of Muslim faith use the Islamic Calendar, also known as the Hijri calendar, to determine their key religious dates. 

It is designed to follow the Moon's cycles and contains 12 lunar months that begin when a new moon is sighted and each year has 354 or 355 days. Each month alternates between 29 and 30 days, except the last month, which varies based on a 30-year cycle. 

The Hijri Year begins on the day the Prophet Muhammad started his migration from Mecca to Medina to escape persecution. The holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset to deepen their relationship with Allah, is the ninth month in the Hijri calendar. 

Ramadan ends with the feast of Eid Al-Fitr. Another major feast day in the Islamic calendar is Eid al-Adha, which marks the end of the hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims who are financially and physically capable must complete at least once in their lives.

The Solar Hijri Calendar

In Iran and Afghanistan, the official calendar is the Solar Hijri calendar, also known as the Iranian or Persian Calendar. It is based on astronomical observations of the Sun and is the most accurate calendar in the world.

Like the Islamic Hijri calendar, the year count for the Solar Hijri calendar also began with the Prophet Mohammed’s migration to Medina in 622 CE. However, because the Islamic Calendar is lunar and the Persian Calendar is solar, they are now up to different years.

Why is Easter on a different date every year?

The date of Easter is based on the lunar cycle. It falls on the first Sunday after the first full Moon following the Northern Hemisphere Spring equinox, which falls on 20 or 21 March.

Go with the seasons

Seasons play an important part in determining key dates in calendars across many cultures. For example, the traditional Persian New Year, called Nourooz, dating back to the pre-Islamic religion of Zoroastrianism, falls on the first day of the Northern Hemisphere Spring. 

Similarly, Chinese New Year marks the "Start of Spring’ and falls between 21 January and 20 February on the Gregorian calendar.

So how are the seasons defined? Countries further away from the Equator have four seasons defined as:

In Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology starts the seasons on the first of the month (Spring begins on 1 September, Summer on 1 December, Autumn on 1 March and Winter on 1 June). This is just for simplicity.

Explore the countries that are part of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Games and the languages they speak.

At the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, English will be the only official language. English is not, however, the only language spoken in the 54 countries and 18 territories that will compete in the Games. When we look at all the languages spoken across the Commonwealth, it paints a diverse picture of the people who inhabit it and the complex histories of Commonwealth member states and territories. LEXIGO has collated a list of languages spoken across the Commonwealth, mostly based on the CIA World Factbook, below.

It would be incorrect to assume that everyone competing in the Commonwealth Games speaks English. As the table below outlines, in many of the competing countries and territories, English is only spoken by officials or a minority. Even in countries where English is spoken by the majority of people, it certainly does not represent the only language widely spoken. In Australia, as discussed in LEXIGO’s blog post about the 2021 Census results, over one in five people speak a language other than English at home. This includes 167 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. In New Zealand, Maori is legally recognised as an official language and is spoken by 4% of the population. 63.7% of Canadians speak English at home, while 20% use Canada’s other official language, French. Even in England itself some people in Cornwell still use the Cornish language (Kernewek).

Currently the Commonwealth does not support linguistic diversity. Eligibility to join the modern Commonwealth includes acceptance of “Commonwealth norms and conventions, such as the use of the English language as the medium of inter-Commonwealth relations”. There could be scope, however, to support the linguistic diversity of its members, as other multilateral organisations have done. For example, French, English and German are the main working languages of the European Union, and a total of 24 languages have official status. Furthermore, the Council of Europe has a Charter for Regional or Minority Languages whereby 79 languages are protected and promoted to enable speakers to use them in public and private life.

Protecting linguistic diversity plays an important role in preserving cultures, the knowledge they encompass and creating equality in multilateral organisations. UNESCO says languages are strategically important to people and the planet because of their “complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development”. With organisations such as the Council of Europe and UNESCO already benefitting and working to protect linguistic diversity, it could be time for the Commonwealth to follow suit. In LEXIGO’s blog post about linguistic diversity vs lingua franca, experts pointed out that “when a social movement operates across language barriers (as opposed to movements where everyone speaks the same native language), deliberations are more equal”.

While linguistic diversity does not appear to be on the agenda for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, there could be an opportunity for Australia’s linguistic diversity to be promoted and used at the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Country/TerritoryLanguages
AnguillaEnglish
Antigua and BarbudaEnglish (official), Antiguan creole
AustraliaEnglish, 2.7% Mandarin, 1.4% Arabic, 1.3% Vietnamese, 1.2% Cantonese, 0.9% Punjabi
BahamasEnglish (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants)
BangladeshBengali
BarbadosEnglish (official), Bajan (English-based creole language, widely spoken in informal settings)
BelizeEnglish 62.9% (official), Spanish 56.6%, Creole 44.6%, Maya 10.5%, German 3.2%, Garifuna 2.9%, other 1.8%, unknown 0.5%; note - shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census (2010 est.)
BermudaEnglish (official), Portuguese
BotswanaSetswana 77.3%, Sekalanga 7.4%, Shekgalagadi 3.4%, English (official) 2.8%, Zezuru/Shona 2%, Sesarwa 1.7%, Sembukushu 1.6%, Ndebele 1%, other 2.8% (2011 est.)
British Virgin IslandsEnglish
BruneiMalay (Bahasa Melayu) (official), English, Chinese dialects
Cameroon24 major African language groups, English (official), French (official)
CanadaEnglish (official) 58.7%, French (official) 22%, Punjabi 1.4%, Italian 1.3%, Spanish 1.3%, German 1.3%, Cantonese 1.2%, Tagalog 1.2%, Arabic 1.1%, other 10.5% (2011 est.)
Cayman IslandsEnglish (official) 90.9%, Spanish 4%, Filipino 3.3%, other 1.7%, unspecified 0.1% (2010 est.)
Cook IslandsEnglish (official) 86.4%, Cook Islands Maori (Rarotongan) (official) 76.2%, other 8.3% (2011 est.)
CyprusGreek (official) 80.9%, Turkish (official) 0.2%, English 4.1%, Romanian 2.9%, Russian 2.5%, Bulgarian 2.2%, Arabic 1.2%, Filipino 1.1%, other 4.3%, unspecified 0.6%; note - data represent only the Republic of Cyprus (2011 est.)
DominicaEnglish (official), French patois
EnglandEnglish, Kernewek
EswatiniEnglish (official, used for government business), siSwati (official)
Falkland IslandsEnglish 89%, Spanish 7.7%, other 3.3% (2006 est.)
FijiEnglish (official), iTaukei (official), Fiji Hindi (official)
GhanaEnglish (official), Asante 16%, Ewe 14%, Fante 11.6%, Boron (Brong) 4.9%, Dagomba 4.4%, Dangme 4.2%, Dagarte (Dagaba) 3.9%, Kokomba 3.5%, Akyem 3.2%, Ga 3.1%, other 31.2% (2010 est.)
GibraltarEnglish (used in schools and for official purposes), Spanish, Italian, Portuguese
GrenadaEnglish (official), French patois
GuernseyEnglish, French, Norman-French dialect spoken in country districts
GuyanaEnglish (official), Guyanese Creole, Amerindian languages (including Caribbean and Arawak languages), Indian languages (including Caribbean Hindustani, a dialect of Hindi), Chinese (2014 est.)
IndiaHindi 43.6%, Bengali 8%, Marathi 6.9%, Telugu 6.7%, Tamil 5.7%, Gujarati 4.6%, Urdu 4.2%, Kannada 3.6%, Odia 3.1%, Malayalam 2.9%, Punjabi 2.7%, Assamese 1.3%, Maithili 1.1%, other 5.6%; note - English enjoys the status of subsidiary official language but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; there are 22 other officially recognized languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu; Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language (2011 est.)
Isle of ManEnglish, Manx Gaelic (about 2% of the population has some knowledge)
JamaicaEnglish, English patois
JerseyEnglish (official) 94.5%, Portuguese 4.6%, other .9% (includes French (official) and Jerriais)
KenyaEnglish (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages
KiribatiI-Kiribati, English (official)
LesothoSesotho (official) (southern Sotho), English (official), Zulu, Xhosa
MalawiEnglish (official), Chewa (common), Lambya, Lomwe, Ngoni, Nkhonde, Nyakyusa, Nyanja, Sena, Tonga, Tumbuka, Yao; note: Chewa and Nyanja are mutually intelligible dialects; Nkhonde and Nyakyusa are mutually intelligible dialects
MalaysiaBahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai; note - Malaysia has 134 living languages - 112 indigenous languages and 22 non-indigenous languages; in East Malaysia, there are several indigenous languages; the most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan
MaldivesDhivehi (official, dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English (spoken by most government officials)
MaltaMaltese (official) 90.1%, English (official) 6%, multilingual 3%, other 0.9% (2005 est.)
MauritiusCreole 86.5%, Bhojpuri 5.3%, French 4.1%, two languages 1.4%, other 2.6% (includes English, one of the two official languages of the National Assembly, which is spoken by less than 1% of the population), unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)
MontserratEnglish
MozambiqueMakhuwa 26.1%, Portuguese (official) 16.6%, Tsonga 8.6%, Nyanja 8.1, Sena 7.1%, Lomwe 7.1%, Chuwabo 4.7%, Ndau 3.8%, Tswa 3.8%, other Mozambican languages 11.8%, other 0.5%, unspecified 1.8% (2017 est.)
NamibiaOshiwambo languages 49.7%, Nama/Damara 11%, Kavango languages 10.4%, Afrikaans 9.4% (also a common language), Herero languages 9.2%, Zambezi languages 4.9%, English (official) 2.3%, other African languages 1.5%, other European languages 0.7%, other 1% (2016 est.); note: Namibia has 13 recognized national languages, including 10 indigenous African languages and 3 European languages
NauruNauruan 93% (official, a distinct Pacific Island language), English 2% (widely understood, spoken, and used for most government and commercial purposes), other 5% (includes I-Kiribati 2% and Chinese 2%) (2011 est.); note: data represent main language spoken at home; Nauruan is spoken by 95% of the population, English by 66%, and other languages by 12%
New ZealandEnglish (de facto official) 95.4%, Maori (de jure official) 4%, Samoan 2.2%, Northern Chinese 2%, Hindi 1.5%, French 1.2%, Yue 1.1%, New Zealand Sign Language (de jure official) 0.5%, other or not stated 17.2% (2018 est.); note: shares sum to 124.1% due to multiple responses on the 2018 census
NigeriaEnglish (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani, over 500 additional indigenous languages
NiueNiuean (official) 46% (a Polynesian language closely related to Tongan and Samoan), Niuean and English 32%, English (official) 11%, Niuean and others 5%, other 6% (2011 est.)
Norfolk IslandEnglish (official) 44.9%, Norfolk (also known as Norfuk or Norf'k, which is a mixture of 18th century English and ancient Tahitian) 40.3%, Fijian 1.8%, other 6.8%, unspecified 6.2% (2016 est.)
Northern IrelandIrish (Gaelic), Ulster Scots and English.
PakistanPunjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Saraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashto (alternate name, Pashtu) 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English (official; lingua franca of Pakistani elite and most government ministries), Burushaski, and other 8%
Papua New GuineaTok Pisin (official), English (official), Hiri Motu (official), some 839 indigenous languages spoken (about 12% of the world's total); many languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers; note: Tok Pisin, a creole language, is widely used and understood; English is spoken by 1%-2%; Hiri Motu is spoken by less than 2%
RwandaKinyarwanda (official, universal Bantu vernacular) 93.2%, French (official) <0.1, English (official) <0.1, Swahili/Kiswahili (official, used in commercial centers) <0.1, more than one language, other 6.3%, unspecified 0.3% (2002 est.)
SamoaSamoan (Polynesian) (official) 91.1%, Samoan/English 6.7%, English (official) 0.5%, other 0.2%, unspecified 1.6% (2006 est.)
ScotlandScotland has three main languages, English, Scottish Gaelic, and Scots.
SeychellesSeychellois Creole (official) 89.1%, English (official) 5.1%, French (official) 0.7%, other 3.8%, unspecified 1.4% (2010 est.)
Sierra LeoneEnglish (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area, a lingua franca and a first language for 10% of the population but understood by 95%)
SingaporeEnglish (official) 48.3%, Mandarin (official) 29.9%, other Chinese dialects (includes Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hakka) 8.7%, Malay (official) 9.2%, Tamil (official) 2.5%, other 1.4%; note - data represent language most frequently spoken at home (2020 est.)
Solomon IslandsMelanesian pidgin (in much of the country is lingua franca), English (official but spoken by only 1%-2% of the population), 120 indigenous languages
South AfricaisiZulu (official) 25.3%, isiXhosa (official) 14.8%, Afrikaans (official) 12.2%, Sepedi (official) 10.1%, Setswana (official) 9.1%, English (official) 8.1%, Sesotho (official) 7.9%, Xitsonga (official) 3.6%, siSwati (official) 2.8%, Tshivenda (official) 2.5%, isiNdebele (official) 1.6%, other (includes Khoi, Nama, and San languages) 2%; note - data represent language spoken most often at home (2018 est.)
Sri LankaSinhala (official and national language) 87%, Tamil (official and national language) 28.5%, English 23.8% (2012 est.); note: data represent main languages spoken by the population aged 10 years and older; shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census; English is commonly used in government and is referred to as the "link language" in the constitution
St HelenaEnglish
St Kitts and NevisEnglish; Saint Kitts Creole
St LuciaEnglish; Antillean Creole
St Vincent and the GrenadinesEnglish; Vincentian Creole
TanzaniaKiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguja (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages; note - Kiswahili (Swahili) is the mother tongue of the Bantu people living in Zanzibar and nearby coastal Tanzania; although Kiswahili is Bantu in structure and origin, its vocabulary draws on a variety of sources including Arabic and English; it has become the lingua franca of central and eastern Africa; the first language of most people is one of the local languages
The GambiaEnglish (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other indigenous vernaculars
TongaTongan and English 76.8%, Tongan, English, and other language 10.6%, Tongan only (official) 8.7%, English only (official) 0.7%, other 1.7%, none 2.2% (2016 est.)
Trinidad and TobagoEnglish (official), Trinidadian Creole English, Tobagonian Creole English, Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Trinidadian Creole French, Spanish, Chinese
Turks and Caicos IslandsEnglish
TuvaluTuvaluan (official), English (official), Samoan, Kiribati (on the island of Nui)
UgandaEnglish (official language, taught in schools, used in courts of law and by most newspapers and some radio broadcasts), Ganda or Luganda (most widely used of the Niger-Congo languages and the language used most often in the capital), other Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili (official), Arabic
Vanuatulocal languages (more than 100) 63.2%, Bislama (official; creole) 33.7%, English (official) 2%, French (official) 0.6%, other 0.5% (2009 est.)
WalesWelsh, English
ZambiaBemba 33.4%, Nyanja 14.7%, Tonga 11.4%, Lozi 5.5%, Chewa 4.5%, Nsenga 2.9%, Tumbuka 2.5%, Lunda (North Western) 1.9%, Kaonde 1.8%, Lala 1.8%, Lamba 1.8%, English (official) 1.7%, Luvale 1.5%, Mambwe 1.3%, Namwanga 1.2%, Lenje 1.1%, Bisa 1%, other 9.7%, unspecified 0.2% (2010 est.); note: Zambia is said to have over 70 languages, although many of these may be considered dialects; all of Zambia's major languages are members of the Bantu family; Chewa and Nyanja are mutually intelligible dialects
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