As defined by the philosophy of language, colloquial language is an ordinary or natural language that uses colloquialisms. Colloquialisms are informal words, phrases, or sayings often specific to one geographical area and typically only used in informal settings. Generally, linguists make distinctions between colloquial language and slang, jargon, and dialect.
Examples of colloquial language include singular words, such as referring to a carbonated beverage as “pop,” as well as phrases used to describe a situation. For example, some people describe a romantic relationship coming to an end as one person getting “dumped by” the other person. Other examples of colloquial phrases can include certain inserts, such as saying someone “up and left” instead of simply “left.”
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Oftentimes, certain colloquialisms are more common in a particular geographical area. For example, people in the southern part of the United States generally use “y’all,” a combination of “you” and “all,” more often than people in the northern part of the country. In the case of carbonated beverages, some of the most common colloquialisms for carbonated beverages include “soda,” “pop,” and “soft drink,” but the exact terms vary depending on where in the world the speaker is located.
Since colloquial language is considered informal, generally, it is not used during academic or professional writing or speaking. Still, people might use colloquialisms when writing or speaking to their family members, friends, or neighbors. Usually, these people are familiar with the language and the meaning. Too, colloquialisms often are accepted within certain kinds of creative writing, such as fiction novels and short stories, and other kinds of creative works. This is especially true if a story takes place in a geographical area well known for certain kinds of colloquial language.
The lines separating colloquialisms, slang, and jargon can be unclear given that each type of language is considered informal and typically is specific to a certain area or group. Such lines become clearer when slang is defined as language used by a specific social group and jargon is defined as language used by a specific professional or interest group. For example, each generation of teenagers might create its own kind of slang language. At the same time, professionals like doctors and lawyers tend to use jargon words and phrases specific to their jobs. Dialect, on the other hand, usually refers to the regional speech patterns or grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation of a region or social class.