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Results from Chinese Cognitive Interviews on the Census 2000 Long Form: Language, Literacy, and Cultural Issues

Yuling Pan, Barbara Craig, and Suzanne Scollon

KEY WORDS: language and cultural lissues, immigrants and survey participation, question interpretation, survey translation


This report documents a study of cognitive interviews with recent Chinese immigrants using the Census 2000 long form (English form and the Chinese translation of the 2000 long form). It aims to identify issues associated with language use, cultural and literacy practices that immigrants bring with them from their home culture that can cause problems in filling out a census questionnaire. Results from cognitive interviews indicate that because of lack of the social context of survey practice in their home culture and lack of familiarity with filling out a questionnaire, recent Chines immigrants exhibit most difficulties in form navigation and in interpretation of census key concepts. This study has also identified issues in the Chinese translation of the census form and language obstacles in the choice of writing system for Chinese translation. It highly recommends cognitive pretesting for the translation of census and survey instruments and supporting documents.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Created: September 6, 2005
Last revised: September 6, 2005

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010