By: Barbara P.
12 min read
Reviewed By: Jacklyn H.
Published on: Jun 2, 2023
You're sitting in your favorite reading nook, flipping through the pages of a beloved novel.
As you delve deeper into the narrative, you encounter characters whose dialogue reflects the spoken language of the region, the era, or even a particular social group.
The words they use, the expressions, and the distinct phrases transport you into their world feeling genuine and relatable.
If so, you may have encountered the captivating literary device known as a colloquialism.
In literature, colloquialism serves as a gateway to the world of everyday language, bringing an authentic and relatable touch to the written word.
In this blog, we will explore colloquialism, along with its type and usage in writing and daily life.
By the end, you'll have a deeper understanding of this remarkable literary device.
So why wait? Let’s dive in!
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“A colloquialism can be defined as a linguistic expression, word or phrase that is not formal or literary and is used in ordinary or familiar conversation”
It deviates from formal standards of grammar and vocabulary, encompassing regional dialects, idioms, and slang.
Pronunciation of the Word “Colloquialism”:
The word Colloquialism is derived from the Latin word colloquium. You can pronounce colloquialism as Kuh-loh-kwee-uh-liz-um
Note: The pronunciation is written using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols.
When it comes to discussing language, it's important to understand the distinction between "colloquial" and "colloquialism."
While they may sound similar, they have distinct meanings.
"Colloquial" is an adjective that describes language or expressions used in everyday, informal conversation.
It refers to the relaxed, conversational style of communication that differs from formal or academic language.
Colloquial language often includes regional dialects, slang, and idiomatic expressions specific to a particular group or community.
It is the way people naturally speak in their everyday lives.
On the other hand,
"Colloquialism" is a noun that refers to a specific instance or example of colloquial language.
It is a particular phrase, word, or expression that reflects the informal and conversational style.
Colloquialisms can vary widely depending on the geographical region, culture, or social group in question.
They add color, authenticity, and cultural context to written and spoken language.
Colloquialisms serve as a reflection of a community's identity, shaping their culture and fostering a sense of belonging.
In literature, authors use colloquialisms to make characters and settings come alive.
By using everyday language and regional expressions, they make the dialogue feel more authentic and relatable.
Colloquialisms help portray the unique traits of different social groups, such as the urban slang or the colorful language of rural communities.
It's a way for writers to connect readers with the story and its characters on a deeper level.
Let’s explore the various types of colloquialisms including words and phrases, along with examples of each.
Colloquial words are informal expressions that are commonly used in everyday conversation. They add a casual and familiar tone to the language.
Here are a few examples of colloquial words:
Example: "I'm gonna meet up with some friends this evening."
Example: "Are y'all coming to the party tomorrow?"
Example: "I ain't going to let that stop me."
Colloquial phrases are informal expressions made up of multiple words. They are commonly used in everyday speech to convey specific meanings.
Read a few examples here:
Example: "Don't worry, fixing that issue will be a piece of cake."
Example: "I told a joke to break the ice at the party."
Example: "I'm so tired, I need to catch some Z's."
Aphorisms are concise and memorable statements that convey a general truth or wisdom.
When combined with colloquial language, they take on a distinct flavor and resonate with everyday speech.
These are some examples of colloquialism aphorisms:
Meaning: You can't form an accurate opinion or assessment based solely on appearances.
Meaning: It's better to do something late than to not do it at all.
Meaning: Make the best out of a difficult situation.
Colloquialisms can be powerful tools in writing, adding depth and authenticity to your characters and dialogue. However, it's important to use them effectively and purposefully.
Here are some tips on how to incorporate colloquialisms into your writing:
Consider who will be reading your work and tailor your use of colloquialisms accordingly. What may be familiar to one group of readers may be confusing or alienating to others.
Strike a balance between using colloquial language to create relatable characters and ensuring that your writing remains accessible to a broader audience.
Colloquialisms can be a valuable tool for character development.
Pay attention to the background, region, and social group your character belongs to.
Research the specific colloquialisms associated with their culture or upbringing and incorporate them to add depth and authenticity to their dialogue.
This will help readers connect with your characters on a more personal level.
While colloquialisms can enhance your writing, be mindful of overusing them.
Too many colloquial expressions can disrupt the flow of your prose and make it difficult for readers who are less familiar with the language or cultural references to follow along.
Select a few well-placed colloquialisms that have the most impact and contribute to the overall tone and atmosphere of your narrative.
Ensure that the colloquialisms you use are appropriate for the context of your narrative essay.
Consider the time period, setting, and the characters' personalities. Use colloquial language that aligns with these elements to create a believable and cohesive world.
A character from a different era or background, for example, may use different colloquialisms compared to a character in a contemporary urban setting.
Here is a complete video guide on colloquialism:
The English language is full of different dialects and variations, and each one has its own unique colloquialisms.
These unique phrases and words not only reflect the local culture and identity but also add charm and character to everyday conversations.
In this section, we'll explore the colloquialisms found in various English dialects.
Let's explore some examples of colloquialisms from different English dialects:
Cockney (London, UK):
Cockney colloquialisms are known for their rhyming slang, where words are substituted with phrases that rhyme with the original word. These playful expressions add a touch of whimsy and wordplay to conversations.
"Apples and pears" - stairs
"Ruby Murray" - curry
Trouble and strife" - wife or partner
Southern American English (Southern United States):
Southern American English is rich with colloquialisms that reflect the hospitality and laid-back nature of the region. These expressions add warmth and friendliness to conversations.
"Y'all" - you all
"Fixin' to" - getting ready to
"Bless your heart" - used to express sympathy or mild condescension
Australian English is known for its distinct colloquialisms, which often involve abbreviations or playful alterations of words. These expressions reflect the easygoing and informal nature of Australian culture.
"G'day" - good day, hello
"Brekkie" - breakfast
"Arvo" - Afternoon
Scottish English colloquialisms showcase the rich linguistic heritage of Scotland. With its own unique vocabulary and pronunciation, Scottish English adds a delightful touch to conversations.
"Braw" - great or excellent
"Wee" - small or little
"Dae" - do
Canadian colloquialisms are unique expressions and phrases that are commonly used in Canadian English. These linguistic gems reflect the cultural identity and regional nuances found within Canada.
"Eh?" - Used as a tag question or to seek agreement, often at the end of a sentence.
"Double-double" - Refers to a coffee order with two creams and two sugars.
"Loonie" - The colloquial term for the Canadian one-dollar coin.
Now, let's explore a few examples of colloquialism in literature to everyday speech. They showcase the diverse and vibrant nature of colloquialisms.
Colloquialisms are an integral part of our everyday speech, injecting it with a touch of informality and familiarity.
These expressions reflect our shared experiences and help create connections between speakers.
Here are some examples of funny colloquialisms commonly used in everyday conversations:
"Couch potato" - Someone who spends a lot of time sitting and watching television
"Dumber than a box of rocks." - Extremely unintelligent or foolish.
"Full of hot air." - Talking a lot but saying little of substance.
In literature, authors skillfully employ them to enhance the authenticity and richness of their storytelling.
Here are a few colloquialism examples in literature:
“But that ain't no matter." - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain.
"Down the rabbit hole" - To enter into a surreal or confusing situation.
"Cry over spilled milk" - To lament something that has already happened and cannot be changed.
Colloquialisms can even find their way into how we refer to everyday objects and items.
These colloquial terms often vary regionally and reflect the familiarity and informality of our daily lives.
Here are some examples of colloquialisms used for everyday items:
"Cuppa" - Short for "cup of tea" or "cup of coffee"
"Moolah" - Slang term for money
"Telly" - Informal term for television
Colloquialisms are not limited to objects and items; they also extend to how we refer to people in our everyday language.
These colloquial terms often capture unique traits or roles of individuals. They add a touch of familiarity and sometimes even affection to our conversations.
Here are some examples of colloquialisms used to refer to people:
"Dude" - Informal term for a male friend or acquaintance
"Gal" - Informal term for a woman or girl
"Sweetheart" - Term of endearment for someone you care about
Colloquialism is part of a larger family of language phenomena that includes slang and jargon.
These terms share similarities in their informality and specialized usage. Yet each possesses its own distinct characteristics.
In this section, we will explore these related terms, delving into the nuances of slang and jargon and how they differ from colloquialism.
The difference between slang and colloquialism is that it is a subset of colloquial language.
It involves the use of unconventional words, phrases, and expressions specific to certain social groups or subcultures.
Slang is ever-changing, with new terms emerging and old ones fading away as trends and cultural shifts occur. It adds an element of vitality and identity to the language of a particular group.
Jargon, while distinct from colloquialism and slang, shares similarities in its specialized usage.
Jargon refers to the technical language used within specific professions, industries, or interest groups.
It consists of terms and phrases that may not be easily understood by those outside of those fields.
Colloquialisms refer to informal and everyday language used in common speech. While idioms are expressions that have a figurative meaning different from their literal interpretation.
In conclusion, colloquialism is a powerful literary device that adds depth and authenticity to writing. By incorporating language and regional expressions, you can create vivid characters, relatable dialogues, and immersive settings.
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Some synonyms for colloquialism include:
You can use the term colloquial in a sentence as follows:
I enjoy reading novels written in a colloquial style because they feel more relatable and authentic.
Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.
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