Difference Between Slang and Colloquial Language

The main difference between slang and colloquial language is that the slang refers to the informal usage of language, especially by certain groups of people such as teenagers, while the colloquial language is the informal use of language consisting certain words or expressions used by common people.

These two are terms that refer to the different usage of a language in speech. Most people use these two terms as synonyms. However, they have differences in a variety of aspects related to their usage.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Slang
      – Definition, Characteristics, Examples
2. What is Colloquial Language
     – Definition, Characteristics, Examples
3. What is  the Similarity Between Slang and Colloquial Language
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Slang and Colloquial Language
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Colloquial Language, Informal Language, Slang

Difference Between Slang and Colloquial Language - Comparison Summary

What is Slang

Slang is more informal than colloquialism. The history of the word slang has its origins in the mid 18th century. Slang is used only by certain groups – like teenagers or people of certain professions.

Slang is more common in speech than writing and is typically restricted to a particular context or group of people. Therefore, slang is used between people who belong to the same social group and also those who know each other well.

Difference Between Slang and Colloquial Language

Examples of Slang Words

Given below are some well-known slang words:

  • geek (someone who always spends time studying therefore considered strange)
  • old fogey (old people)
  • Bee’s knees (express something excellent)
  • Arm and a leg (something extremely expensive)
  • Telly (television)
  • Skiving (avoiding work or school)
  • Not fussed (to say ‘not bothered’ or ‘I don’t mind’)
  • Lotsa – Lots of

Furthermore, since slang consists of very informal words, if it is used on someone who is not using that type of language, it can offend them as well.

Moreover, slang changes quickly, and as a result, slang words and expressions can disappear from the language. Similarly, new slang expressions can get updated in a language from time to time according to the standards of the people who use it.

What is Colloquial Language

Colloquial language is the informal language used by people in everyday speech. This form of language usage is also known as colloquialism or casualism. Colloquialism has its origin in the mid-18th century.

Colloquial language is the everyday use of language, commonplace parlance or vernacular language. However, it might have several different phrases, vocabulary or complete aphorisms, unlike the standard ordinary language usage.

Main Difference - Slang vs Colloquial Language

Compared to slang, colloquial language is more formal since it does not sound offensive like slang. Nevertheless, colloquial language is most appropriate in the conversational form or the speech form.

Examples of Colloquial Language

Some examples of colloquial language are:

  • Hy, what’s up?
  • How’s it going with ya?
  • Whatcha doin’ this weekend?
  • How ya been all this time?

Similarity Between Slang and Colloquial Language

  • Both slang and colloquial language are spoken forms of a language, and both use informal vocabulary.

Difference Between Slang and Colloquial Language

Definition

Slang is the informal use of language by certain groups of people, specifically teenagers, etc. while colloquial language is the informal language used by people in everyday speech.

Vocabulary

The vocabulary of slang is created by the users thus it is most likely to change with time whereas the vocabulary in colloquial speech may last longer than slang.

Usage

Certain groups such as teenagers typically use slang while ordinary people in their daily speech use colloquial language.

Conclusion

Slang and colloquial language are two forms of spoken form of a language. Both use informal words and expressions. However, slang is more informal compared to colloquial language. Slang is predominantly used by certain groups of people like teenagers while colloquial language is used by the ordinary people in their daily speech. This is the main difference between slang and colloquial language.

Reference:

1. “An Introduction to English Slang: 30 Wonderful Examples.” Oxford Royale Academy, 23 Sept. 2014, Available here.
2. “What Is Slang?” Double Negatives | Write.com, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “New Scrabble Words 2015″ by Jonathan Rolande (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
2. “Friends Talking” (Public Domain) via PublicDomainPictures.net

About the Author: Upen

Upen, BA (Honours) in Languages and Linguistics, has academic experiences and knowledge on international relations and politics. Her academic interests are English language, European and Oriental Languages, Internal Affairs and International Politics, and Psychology.

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