Colloquial – adjective

  • Characteristic of or appropriate to ordinary or familiar conversation rather than formal speech or writing; informal (Dictionary.com)
  • Using conversational style (Merriam-Webster)
  • (Of words and expressions) Informal and more suitable for use in speech than in writing (Cambridge)

“The noun colloquy was first used in English to refer to a conversation or dialogue, and when the adjective colloquial was formed from colloquy it had a similar focus. Over time, however, colloquial developed a more specific meaning related to language that is most suited to informal conversation – and it ultimately garnered an additional, disparaging implication of a style that seems too informal for a situation. Colloquy and colloquial trace back to the Latin verb colloqui, meaning ‘to converse.’ Colloqui in turn was formed by combining the prefix com- and loqui, ‘to speak.’” – Merriam-Webster

What Is the Purpose of Colloquialism in Literature? (MasterClass)

“Writers use colloquial expressions to add authenticity to their work. Colloquialisms can also help with:

  • Dialogue. Recreating casual communication through colloquial dialogue can add realism to a story and its environment. In Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, for example, the colloquial street language of the characters reflect their lives on the fringe of Scottish society; an example is the phrase ‘git aulder,’ meaning ‘get older.’
  • Setting. Colloquialisms can also help establish and support the time and place of a story. In Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, the characters speak in a folksy, colloquial tone that represents rural Alabama during the first half of the twentieth century.
  • Characters. Colloquialisms can also help establish a character’s backstory, including age and socioeconomic background. The narrator of J.D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye, 16-year-old Holden Caulfield, is educated but uses expressions like ‘can’tcha,’ ‘helluva time,’ and ‘dough.’ Salinger’s use of these rougher colloquialisms highlights Holden’s rebellious streak.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Other Publications by author-clients of Swenson Book Development LLC

Jean Raffa
Red Feather MBS

David P. Madden
McFarland Press

Margot Bloomstein
Page Two Books, March 2, 2021

Mark L. Johnson and Don M. Tucker
The MIT Press

Chelsea Hanson
Mango, May 19, 2020

Cathryn J. Prince
Chicago Review Press, May 7, 2019

Amy Pershing / Chevese Turner
Routledge, August 10, 2018

Diane Tober
Rutgers University Press, November 30, 2018