Language and Linguistics

Colloquial Language Characteristics with Examples

Colloquial Language

The colloquial language is all that oral expression that occurs daily between the speakers of a language, within the informal context. It is the form of speech that is used, throughout the earthly plane, among the vast majority of people with a brief and direct communicative purpose. Colloquial Language and Characteristics

The word “colloquial”, etymologically speaking, comes from the Latin word colloquium . The prefix co means: “collision”, “union”, “copious”, “consonant”. For its part, the root loqui has the meanings: “speak”, “eloquence”, “loquacious”. The suffix ium, for its part, means: “beginning”, “extermination”, “aid”.

In general terms, the word “colloquial” means “conversation“, therefore the statement “colloquial language” refers to expressions typical of everyday conversations.

Erroneously, for a long time, the term “colloquial” has been confused as a synonym for poverty, for vulgar, and at the same time the term “vulgar” has been given the connotation of “rudeness”, “insolence”. This series of linguistic blunders have come to generate great confusion in the speakers when referring to these premises and words.

The colloquial at no time has meant poverty, nor vulgar has it meant rudeness. However, this has been assumed and propagated. The truth is that the “colloquial”, if we make an analogy, refers to the communicational forms of the people.

For its part, the vulgar is the opposite of the cultured, that communication that occurs without so many rules or instrumentalisms; in other words: the communication of the people.


Represents the linguistic identity of the peoples

The colloquial language has such significance that it becomes the phonological imprint of the peoples, which denotes their linguistic identity before the rest of the populations.

As with the territorial organization of countries, which are subdivided into provinces, states, and municipalities, the same occurs with colloquial speech.

There is a language proper to each population, with its well-marked dialect differences, and there is a general language that, to a certain degree, incorporates a significant sum of the different speeches typical of each area. Colloquial Language and Characteristics

Those speeches typical of each area are what give them richness and identify them phonologically and grammatically. Each country has unique expressions, and in turn, each state and each village has its own terminologies within the colloquial language. The sole purpose of these resources is to achieve the communicative fact in a simple and fluid way.


Colloquial language is a mirror of everyday life, that is why spontaneity is one of its most common characteristics.

This type of language is free from all ties and subject solely and exclusively to the verbal agreements of those who use it. It is understood by verbal agreements: all those speeches that the interlocutors know and handle, and are typical of their area.

The naturalness of the speech of those who apply it becomes one of the most distinctive marks of this way of communication, which gives it freshness, scope and flexibility.

Simple lexicon

Those who use it tend not to apply elaborate terms, but rather the communicative fact is summarized in common words of global management and, of course, words typical of the dialect or sub-dialect used.

Extended use of gestures

Human communication is a very complex and complete act. However, as regards colloquial language, despite being a form of everyday communication, it does not imply that resources are not used to enrich it.

The gestures, those signals, gestures and bearing that enhance the expressiveness of the messages, are widely applied in colloquial communication, especially to reduce the number of words when speaking.

Frequent use of “wildcard” words

These wildcard words come to be the same ones that fall within what are considered “cosisms”, such as: “thing”, “that”, “that”, “sheath” (in the case of Venezuela), whose role is the to delete or replace a large number of words at the time of communication.

It is necessary to bear in mind that in the educated language this type of resources are found within the “vices” of communication because their prolonged use reduces the lexicon of the speakers.


Regarding the resources associated with this linguistic expression, the following three levels and their manifestations can be clearly appreciated: Colloquial Language and Characteristics

Phonic level

From the point of view of phonation, the following elements are appreciated:


That is to say: the use of words that imitate natural or non-natural sounds, not discursive, during the speech, and that are not typical of human language. An example could be: “And the car went off, ‘fuuunnnnnnnn’, and the police could not reach them.”

Relaxed attitude and not subject to linguistic norms

Due to its informal nature, it is normal that colloquial language tends to show disrespect for the rules that govern the language. However, despite the breaking of linguistic laws, communication flows and occurs; with its details, but it happens.


Intonation, being an oral communication, plays a relevant role. Depending on the reason (exclamatory, interrogative or enunciative) it will be the property of intonation, also adapting to the communicative context.

There are many factors that affect intonation: affiliates, emotional, union, labor. Depending on the link between the interlocutors, it will be the intention of the orality.

Dialect traits

The colloquial language is never the same in any part of the world, even when they share the same national territory, neither the regional one, nor the municipal one, and even that of the same block. Each place has its own dialect features that give it its consonance.

Linguistic studies have verified the presence and expansion of sub-dialects even in small population strata.

Each group of individuals belonging to a community, when sharing tastes or tendencies in any branch of art, entertainment or trades, tend to incorporate or create words that fit their communicational needs.

This is not as strange as it sounds. The language itself is a mutable entity, a “being” made of letters, sounds, that responds to the requirements of the speakers and that is transformed according to what the subjects who use it have available. Colloquial Language and Characteristics

This series of sub-dialects, with their respective rhythmic and melodic phonations, are the ones that give identity to the populations and the groups that make them up. For this reason, it is common to hear people say: “That one is Uruguayan, and that Colombian, and that one is Mexican, this one is a rocker and that one salsero”, with hardly hearing them because the sound mark of the accent, and the gestures and outfits, leave them in evidence.

Extended use of apocopes

Elisions are very common in colloquial language, precisely because of what is stated in the previous characteristics.

Being a commonly brief act of communication, it tends to contain a large number of suppressed words. Although the words are manifested in this way, they are normally well understood among the interlocutors due to previous agreements of a cultural-communicational aspect.

A clear example would be: “Come pa´ que ver´”, where the word “para” is deleted, in addition to the “s” at the end of the conjugation of the verb “ver” in the second person.

Contractions represent one of the most relaxed and common characteristics in colloquial languages ​​around the world. They are considered, within communication, a kind of “economy of language”.

Morphosyntactic level

Within the morphosyntactic elements of colloquial language, the following are evident:

Use of exclamations, question marks, diminutives and augmentatives

It is very common to see among colloquial interlocutors the exaggerated use of language in terms of intonation or the increase or decrease of the properties of objects or beings at the time of communication.

As they are not subject to any law, and the subjects are totally free, expressiveness is the boss. Therefore, it is common to hear: diminutives, “The cart”; augmentatives”; exclamations, “Count well!” and interrogations “And what did he tell you?”

Presence of indefinite articles for the first and second person

Another very common element present in this type of language. It is too normal in the use of “one”, “one” and “some”, “some”.

Some clear examples would be: “You don’t know what might happen”; “Some of the ones I feel are going to fall.” Colloquial Language and Characteristics

Use of articles in front of proper names

This is another very common aspect in colloquial language, especially in the lower strata. It is often heard: “Pepe came and did his thing with María , who sees them as santicos.”

Short phrases

For the same brevity that characterizes this type of speeches, it is normal for those who use it to include the use of short sentences that communicate the right thing. What is required is to manifest what is next, what is necessary.

Use of hyperbaton

That is, there is a change in the common syntax of the sentences in order to emphasize some specific part of the speech.

Abuse and misuse of adversarial ties

“But”, “however”, “more”, are widely used in this type of language, leading to abuse and wear.

Perhaps the most delicate thing is the incorrect use of these. It is very normal to hear phrases like: “But she did it nevertheless”; “Yet he could not say anything”; representing this a crass error because “but”, “however, and” more “, are synonymous.


It refers to the use and abuse of the personal pronoun “la” when developing communication. Loísmo and leísmo are also presented, which are practically the same but with the pronouns “lo” and “le”.


As a result of the very brevity of this communicative fact, the interlocutors must use the invention to respond in the most efficient way possible to the questions that are presented to them.

This characteristic increases the imprecision of the colloquial language because in all cases it is not answered in the appropriate way, or in the way that the other interlocutor expects.

However, contrary to what many think, improvisation, due to the immediacy it requires, requires the application of intelligence to be carried out. Colloquial Language and Characteristics

Lexical-semantic level

Common vocabulary

The words used are of relaxed use and do not have great complexity, but rather fulfill the communicative fact in the simplest way.

Limited and imprecise vocabulary

Since many of these conversations take place in groups, or are limited by the time in which they must take place, the interlocutors are dedicated to making their message as concise and, although it sounds strange, not as precise.

To reduce participation in the speeches, they use idioms typical of the area.

These “idioms”, or expressions adjusted to the realities of each community, have the property of explaining in a few words situations that require a greater number of words.

When these linguistic manifestations are used, they tend to leave certain communicational gaps that are filled by the lyrical receiver, who assumes what the sender wanted to say by getting as close as possible to the message, even when it is not exactly what he wanted to transmit.

A clear example would be that in a conversation between a group of Venezuelans, at a table with many objects, one of them says: “He got upset with me and threw that” pod “at me, pointing to the table without specifying which object specifically refers. At that moment each of those present could assume that any of the objects was the one that was thrown.

In Venezuela the word ‘sheath’ is a very frequent noun used to replace any object or action. We could classify it as a “thingism”.


This vice usually occurs when there are communication or lexical gaps in one of the interlocutors by not having an immediate answer about what is being asked or not knowing how to continue the talk. Among the most common fillers are: “this”, “good”, “how do I explain it to you”.


These types of linguistic manifestations are also very common, and usually refer to elements close to the environment. Their objective is to highlight a quality of one of the interlocutors, either for mockery or for entertainment. Colloquial Language and Characteristics

Clear examples would be: “You are an airplane!” (to refer to quick thinking), or “You are as delicate as a donkey!” (to refer to lack of sensitivity).

Scarce literary resources

Typical of the environments where this type of communication tends to occur and also conditioned by the cultural and/or educational differences that may arise between the interlocutors.


The uses of colloquial language are subject to two well-defined contexts: the family context and the popular one.

In the family context

When mention is made of this area, it refers to the language that the members of a family apply to their own members. This language presents a wide gestural richness that has enormous repercussions on orality.

It is confined to very complex structures of coexistence, where degrees of authority play a crucial role. In this regard, every family is a lexical universe where each word and gesture is conditioned by the intrinsic relationships between the interlocutors.

In the popular context

It refers to the space outside the home, everything in which the interlocutors are circumscribed and that is alien to work or academics. It presents a great wealth of idioms and the communications that occur in this medium depend on the preparations of each subject.

Here, in this medium, you can see the presence of the rest of the subgroups where the life of the interlocutors takes place, each one with its dialect variants.

One can speak of a general environment to which the rest of the microenvironments are circumscribed, among which there is a continuous exchange of speakers.

It is an extremely rich and complex structure that shows the multiple linguistic facets that an ordinary subject can possess.


Below are two dialogues where colloquial language is effusively manifested:

Example 1

“Where do you come from, Luisito?” You look tired, ”Pedro said, gesturing for attention.

“Whoa, Pedro.” You always walk like a samurai, pending the life of everyone. I come from work. The day was strong today, ”Luis answered, in a foul tone.

“You’re always funny … And what did they send you to do, then?” Pedro replied, a little annoyed.

“The same as always, bug … Look, I’ll hurry, we’ll talk later,” Luis said, leaving instantly.

Example 2

“Look, Luis, do you see the little house over there?” Said Pedro, in a low and mysterious voice.

“Yes, why? What’s so strange about it?” Luis said, also in a low voice, playing along with Pedro.

—That woman lives there, María Luisa. That woman carries me crazy ´e perinola, compaio, “replied Pedro, excited.

—Oh, compadre, you don’t play in that field it’s more than ever, you hear? Said Luis, and walked away laughing. Colloquial Language and Characteristics

In both examples are present contractions, comparisons, questions, exclamations, the use of diminutives and augmentatives, typical elements of colloquial language.

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