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Colloquialism (/kəˈlkwiəˌlɪzm, k-/) – also called colloquial language, everyday language, or general parlance – is the linguistic style used for casual (informal) 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]

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 necessarily slang or non-standard.

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]

"Colloquial" should also be distinguished from "non-standard".[8] The difference between standard and non-standard is not necessarily connected to the difference between formal and colloquial.[9] Formal, colloquial, and vulgar language are more a matter of stylistic variation and diction, rather than of the standard and non-standard dichotomy.[10][8] The term "colloquial" is also equated with "non-standard" at times, in certain contexts and terminological conventions.[11][12]

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.[13]

In the philosophy of language, "colloquial language" is ordinary natural language, as distinct from specialized forms used in logic or other areas of philosophy.[14] In the field of logical atomism, meaning is evaluated in a different way than with more formal propositions.

Distinction from other styles[edit]

Colloquialisms are distinct from slang or jargon. Slang refers to words used only by specific social groups, such as demographics based on region, age, or socio-economic identity.[15] In contrast, jargon is most commonly used within specific occupations, industries, activities, or areas of interest. Colloquial language includes slang, along with abbreviations, contractions, idioms, turns-of-phrase, and other informal words and phrases known to most native speakers of a language or dialect.[15]

Jargon is terminology that is explicitly 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. Similar to slang, it is shorthand used to express ideas, people, and things that are frequently discussed between members of a group. Unlike slang, it is often developed deliberately.[16] 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[edit]


  1. ^ Bańko, Mirosław (2006). Polszczyzna na co dzień (in Polish). Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN. p. 84. ISBN 8301147938. OCLC 123970553.
  2. ^ Kwiek-Osiowska, Janina (1992). ABC... polskiej gramatyki: leksykon szkolny (in Polish). Kraków: Towarzystwo Miłośników Języka Polskiego. pp. 101–103. ISBN 8370640486. OCLC 76290254.
  3. ^ Buttler, Danuta (1982). "Miejsce języka potocznego w wśród odmian współczesnego języka polskiego". In Urbańczyk, Stanisław (ed.). Język literacki i jego warianty (in Polish). Wrocław.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  4. ^ Furdal, Antoni (1977). Urbańczyk, Stanisław (ed.). Językoznawstwo otwarte (in Polish). Opole: Opolskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk. Wydział Języka i Literatury.
  5. ^ Buttler, Danuta (1977). "Polskie słownictwo potoczne". Poradnik Językowy (in Polish).
  6. ^ colloquial. (n.d.) Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved September 10, 2008, from
  7. ^ a b c Trask, Robert (1999). Key Concepts in Language and Linguistics. Psychology Press. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-0-415-15742-1.
  8. ^ a b Trudgill, Peter (2000). Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society. Penguin UK. p. 17. ISBN 9780141926308.
  9. ^ "NGS". German Department, Hull University. 1992. pp. 208–233.
  10. ^ Trudgill, Peter (1999). "Standard English: what it isn't". In Bex, T.; Watts, R.J. (eds.). Standard English: The Widening Debate. London: Routledge. pp. 117–128. Archived from the original on 21 March 2009.
  11. ^ Roger D. Hawkins; Richard Towell (2010). French Grammar and Usage. Routledge. p. x. ISBN 9780340991244.
  12. ^ Šipka, Danko (December 2016). "Exclusion Labels in Slavic Monolingual Dictionaries: Lexicographic Construal of Non-Standardness". Colloquium: New Philologies. 1 (1): 4. doi:10.23963/cnp.2016.1.1. ISSN 2520-3355.
  13. ^ "familiar, n., adj., and adv.". OED Online. Oxford University Press. 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  14. ^ Davidson, Donald (1997). "Truth and meaning". In Peter Ludlow (ed.). Readings in the Philosophy of Language. MIT Press. pp. 89–107. ISBN 978-0-262-62114-4.
  15. ^ a b Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2003). Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1403917232.
  16. ^ Lundin, Leigh (2009-12-31). "Buzzwords– bang * splat !". Don Martin School of Software. Criminal Brief.

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