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Colloquialism or colloquial language is the linguistic style used for casual communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom normally employed in conversation and other informal contexts. [1] Colloquialism is characterized by wide usage of interjections and other expressive devices; it makes use of non-specialist terminology, and has a rapidly changing lexicon. It can also be distinguished by its usage of formulations with incomplete logical and syntactic ordering. [2] [3] [4] [5]

In sociolinguistics, a style is a set of linguistic variants with specific social meanings. In this context, social meanings can include group membership, personal attributes, or beliefs. Linguistic variation is at the heart of the concept of linguistic style—without variation there is no basis for distinguishing social meanings. Variation can occur syntactically, lexically, and phonologically.

Conversation form of interactive communication between or among people

Conversation is interactive communication between two or more people.

In semiotics, linguistics, sociology and anthropology, context refers to those objects or entities which surround a focal event, in these disciplines typically a communicative event, of some kind. Context is "a frame that surrounds the event and provides resources for its appropriate interpretation". It is thus a relative concept, only definable with respect to some focal event within a frame, not independently of that frame.


A specific instance of such language is termed a colloquialism. The most common term used in dictionaries to label such an expression is colloquial.


Colloquialism or general parlance is distinct from formal speech or formal writing. [6] It is the form of language that speakers typically use when they are relaxed and not especially self-conscious. [7] An expression is labeled colloq. for "colloquial" in dictionaries when a different expression is preferred in formal usage, but this does not mean that the colloquial expression is automatically unacceptable in formal language or that it is necessarily slang. Many people[ who? ] misunderstand this very common dictionary label due to the widespread misconception that colloquial, as a linguistic term, means "location" and implies a word being "regional". This is not the case; the word root for colloquial is related to locution, not location.[ citation needed ]

Public speaking process and act of speaking or giving a lecture to a group of people in a structured, deliberate manner intended to inform, influence, or entertain a listening audience

Public speaking is the process or act of performing a speech to a live audience. Public speaking is commonly understood as formal, face-to-face speaking of a single person to a group of listeners. Traditionally, public speaking is considered to be a part of the art of persuasion. The act can accomplish particular purposes including to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. Additionally, differing methods, structures, and rules can be utilized according to the speaking situation.

Some colloquial language contains a great deal of slang, but some contains no slang at all. Slang is often used in colloquial speech, but this particular register is restricted to particular in-groups, and it is not a necessary element of colloquialism. [7] Other examples of colloquial usage in English include contractions or profanity. [7]

Slang is language of an informal register that members of particular in-groups favor in order to establish group identity, exclude outsiders, or both.

A contraction is a shortened version of the written and spoken forms of a word, syllable, or word group, created by omission of internal letters and sounds.

Profanity is socially offensive language, which may also be called curse words or swearing, cuss words, swear words, crude language, coarse language, oaths, blasphemous language, vulgar language, lewd language, choice words, or expletives.

"Colloquial" should be distinguished from "non-standard" – while certain elements of everyday speech might be unacceptable within a standardized form of the language, many colloquial expressions constitute a valid part of standard usage, and might be employed in more relaxed, informal registers. [8] Formal, informal, and colloquial language are more a matter of stylistic variation and diction, rather than of the standard and non-standard dichotomy, which is particularly found across different dialects. [9] The term "colloquial" is however also equated with "non-standard" in certain contexts and terminological conventions. [10]

A nonstandard dialect or vernacular dialect is a dialect that does not have the institutional support or sanction that a standard dialect has.

A standard language is defined either as a language variety employed by a population for public purposes, or as a variety that has undergone standardization. The term "standard language" is also occasionally used to refer to a language that has one or more standardized forms, referring to the entirety of it, rather than a specific codified form. Typically, varieties that become standardized are the local dialects spoken in the centers of commerce and government, where a need arises for a variety that will serve more than local needs. Standardization typically involves a fixed orthography, codification in authoritative grammars and dictionaries and public acceptance of these standards.

Diction, in its original meaning, is a writer's or speaker's distinctive vocabulary choices and style of expression in a poem or story. In its common meaning, it's the distinctiveness of speech, the art of speaking so that each word is clearly heard and understood to its fullest complexity and extremity, and concerns pronunciation and tone, rather than word choice and style. This is more precisely and commonly expressed with the term enunciation, or with its synonym articulation.

A colloquial name or familiar name is a name or term commonly used to identify a person or thing in non-specialist language, in place of another usually more formal or technical name. [11] (See also: common name, trivial name).

In biology, a common name of a taxon or organism is a name that is based on the normal language of everyday life; this kind of name is often contrasted with the scientific name for the same organism, which is Latinized. A common name is sometimes frequently used, but that is by no means always the case.

Trivial name nonsystematic name for a chemical substance

In chemistry, a trivial name is a nonsystematic name for a chemical substance. That is, the name is not recognized according to the rules of any formal system of chemical nomenclature such as IUPAC inorganic or IUPAC organic nomenclature. A trivial name is not a formal name and is usually a common name.

In the philosophy of language, "colloquial language" is ordinary natural language, as distinct from specialized forms used in logic or other areas of philosophy. [12] In the field of logical atomism, meaning is evaluated in a different way than with more formal propositions.

Philosophy of language, in the analytical tradition, explored logic, the nature of meaning, and accounts of the mind.

In neuropsychology, linguistics, and the philosophy of language, a natural language or ordinary language is any language that has evolved naturally in humans through use and repetition without conscious planning or premeditation. Natural languages can take different forms, such as speech or signing. They are distinguished from constructed and formal languages such as those used to program computers or to study logic.

Logic the systematic study of the form of arguments

Logic is the systematic study of the form of valid inference, and the most general laws of truth. A valid inference is one where there is a specific relation of logical support between the assumptions of the inference and its conclusion. In ordinary discourse, inferences may be signified by words such as therefore, thus, hence, ergo, and so on.

Distinction from other styles

Colloquialisms are distinct from slang or jargon. Slang refers to words used only by specific social groups, such as teenagers or soldiers. [13] Colloquial language may include slang, but consists mostly of contractions or other informal words and phrases known to most native speakers of the language. [13]

Jargon is terminology that is especially defined in relationship to a specific activity, profession, or group. The term refers to the language used by people who work in a particular area or who have a common interest. Much like slang, it is a kind of shorthand used to express ideas that are frequently discussed between members of a group, though it can also be developed deliberately using chosen terms. [14] While a standard term may be given a more precise or unique usage amongst practitioners of relevant disciplines, it is often reported that jargon is a barrier to communication for those people unfamiliar with the respective field.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

The term dialect is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of linguistic phenomena:

Gibberish, alternatively jibberish, jibber, jibber-jabber, or gobbledygook, is speech that is nonsense. It may include speech sounds that are not actual words, or language games and specialized jargon that seems nonsensical to outsiders. Gibberish should not be confused with literary nonsense such as that used in the poem "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll.

Internet slang Slang languages used by different people on the Internet

Internet slang refers to various kinds of slang used by different people on the Internet. An example of Internet slang is "LOL" meaning "laugh out loud". It is difficult to provide a standardized definition of Internet slang due to the constant changes made to its nature. However, it can be understood to be any type of slang that Internet users have popularized, and in many cases, have coined. Such terms often originate with the purpose of saving keystrokes or to compensate for small character limits. Many people use the same abbreviations in texting and instant messaging, and social networking websites. Acronyms, keyboard symbols and abbreviations are common types of Internet slang. New dialects of slang, such as leet or Lolspeak, develop as ingroup internet memes rather than time savers. Some people only use LOL for fun. Many people use this internet slang not only on the Internet but also face-to-face.

Jargon is the specialized terminology associated with a particular area of activity. Jargon is normally employed in a particular communicative context and may not be well understood outside that context. The context is usually a particular occupation, but any ingroup can have jargon. The main trait that distinguishes jargon from the rest of a language is special vocabulary—including some words specific to it, and often different senses or meanings of words, that outgroups would tend to take in another sense—therefore misunderstanding that communication attempt. Jargon is sometimes understood as a form of technical slang and then distinguished from the official terminology used in a particular field of activity.

Patois is speech or language that is considered nonstandard, although the term is not formally defined in linguistics. As such, patois can refer to pidgins, creoles, dialects, or vernaculars, but not commonly to jargon or slang, which are vocabulary-based forms of cant.

Dude is American English slang for an individual, typically male. From the 1870s to the 1960s, dude primarily meant a person who dressed in an extremely fashionable manner or a conspicuous citified person who was visiting a rural location, a "city slicker". In the 1960s, dude evolved to mean any male person, a meaning that slipped into mainstream American slang in the 1970s. Current slang retains at least some use of all three of these common meanings.

Alternative names for people from the United Kingdom include nicknames and terms, including affectionate ones, neutral ones, and derogatory ones to describe British people, and more specifically English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish people.

In English, the word like has a very flexible range of uses, ranging from conventional to non-standard. It can be used as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, preposition, particle, conjunction, hedge, filler, and quotative.

A cant, cryptolect, argot, anti-language or secret language is the jargon or language of a group, often employed to exclude or mislead people outside the group. Each term differs slightly in meaning, and their use is inconsistent.

In sociolinguistics, a register is a variety of language used for a particular purpose or in a particular communicative situation. For example, when speaking officially or in a public setting, an English speaker may be more likely to follow prescriptive norms for formal usage than in a casual setting; examples might include pronouncing words ending in -ing with a velar nasal instead of an alveolar nasal, choosing words that are considered more "formal", and refraining from using words considered nonstandard, such as ain't.

Fanspeak is the slang or jargon current in science fiction and fantasy fandom, especially those terms in use among readers and writers of science fiction fanzines.

Shiksa is an often disparaging term for a non-Jewish woman or girl. The word, which is of Yiddish origin, has moved into English usage, mostly in North American Jewish culture. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it came into English usage in the late 19th century from the Yiddish shikse, which is an adaptation of the Hebrew word šiqṣâ, which is derived from sheqeṣ and the feminine suffix .

Chilean Spanish is any of several varieties of Spanish spoken in most of Chile. Chilean Spanish dialects have distinctive pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and slang usage that differ from those of standard Spanish.

Sexual slang is a set of linguistic terms and phrases used to refer to sexual organs, processes, and activities; they are generally considered colloquial rather than formal or medical, and some may be seen as impolite or improper.

Buttocks An anatomical feature on the posterior of some primates

The buttocks are two rounded portions of the anatomy, located on the posterior of the pelvic region of primates, and many other bipeds or quadrupeds, and comprise a layer of fat superimposed on the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles. The two gluteus maximus muscles stabilise the hip joint and are the largest muscles in the entire human body; responsible for propelling the entire body forward when running and walking, ensuring the proper functioning of the entire leg. Physiologically, the buttocks enable weight to be taken off the feet while sitting. In many cultures, they play a role in sexual attraction. Some cultures, such as that of Victorian England, have also used the buttocks as a primary target for corporal punishment, as the buttocks' layer of subcutaneous fat offers protection against injury while still allowing for the infliction of pain. There are several connotations of buttocks in art, fashion, culture and humor, and the English language is replete with many popular synonyms that range from polite colloquialisms to vulgar slang. In humans the buttocks are located between the lower back and the perineum.

Güey is a word in colloquial Mexican Spanish which is commonly used to refer to any person without using their name. Though more often, and originally only applied to males, it can be used equally for males and females; although women would more commonly use another slang word to refer to another unnamed female person, such as "chava" or "vieja". It is used roughly the same way "dude" is used in modern American English. It is derived from the term buey, which refers to an ox, used for meat, sacrifice, or labor. It was used to insult men as cheated husbands/boyfriends/cuckolds because oxen are slow, castrated bulls. Over time, the initial underwent a consonant mutation to a, often elided; resulting in the modern wey. The word can be used as an insult, like "fool", although, due to its extremely high frequency of use in a multitude of contexts, it has lost much of its offensive character, becoming a colloquialism.

Usus is the common usage of linguistic units in a particular speech community. It may be used as one of the criteria of laying out prescriptive norms for standard language usage.

German youth language or Youth Communication describes the linguistic patterns and characteristics used by German adolescents. Speech patterns vary by age, era, and location.


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