Insights and commentary on language and creative writing.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Colloquialism vs. Slang

Colloquialism and slang – the same thing? I think not.

Colloquialisms enrich a language, lending to the identity of a people and a culture. Slang waters down language, like static on a radio station. The language is still there but diminished due to laziness and lack of effort.

Coming from a Caribbean upbringing and having lived in Toronto and Vancouver, I have been exposed to several dialects of the English language and found there is no shortage of colloquialisms and slang.


“Give me a toonie.” “Tonnie” is a Canadian colloquialism for the Canadian two-dollar coin.
“Gimme a toonie.” “Gimme” is slang, slurring two words together for the sake of brevity.

“I’ll buy milk one time when I’m coming home.” “One time” is a Trinidadian colloquialism for “at the same time” or “while”.

“I pickin’ up milk one time.” Leaving “am” out of the sentence may shorten the sentence, and is common in Trinidad, however, it sacrifices grammar by destroying the verb structure in the sentence.

Language is a cornerstone of identity, regional, provincial or national. Every language has its own unique vocabulary, formal and informal words and expressions that distinguish the language from other languages. We wouldn’t scribble all over our national flag, so why are we diluting our language with words that will leave no national legacy?


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