Colloquialism vs. Vernacular

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Colloquialism and Vernacular is that the Colloquialism is a language that is used in daily life and Vernacular is a common speech variety of a specific population, as opposed to standard, national, literary or scientific idiom.

  • Colloquialism

    Everyday language, everyday speech, common parlance, informal language, colloquial language, general parlance, or vernacular (but this has other meanings too), is the most used variety of a language, which is usually employed in conversation or other communication in informal situations.

    An example of such language is called a colloquialism, or casualism. The most common term used by dictionaries to label such an expression is colloquial. Many people however misunderstand this label and confuse it with the word local because it sounds somewhat similar and because informal expressions are often only used in certain regions. (But a regionalism is not the same thing as a colloquialism, and a regionalism can be local formal speech). Much of the misunderstanding is ironically caused by the dictionary label itself being formal and not part of everyday speech. As a result, there is widespread confusion between colloquialisms and regionalisms and idioms even among dictionary users and perhaps especially among them. In addition to the problematic colloquial, Wiktionary also uses the universally understood label informal but does not define any difference between them.

    The word colloquial by its etymology originally referred to speech as distinguished from writing, but colloquial register is fundamentally about the degree of informality or casualness rather than the medium, and some usage commentators thus prefer the term casualism.

  • Vernacular

    A vernacular, or vernacular language, is the lect used in everyday life by the common people of a specific population. It is distinguished from national, literary, liturgical or scientific idiom, or a lingua franca, used to facilitate communication across a large area. It is usually native, mostly spoken informally rather than written and usually seen as of lower status than more codified forms. It can be a distinct stylistic register, regional dialect, sociolect or an independent language.

    In the context of language standardization, the term “vernacular” is also used specifically to refer to nonstandard dialects of a certain language, as opposed to its prestige normative forms.

  • Colloquialism (noun)

    A colloquial word or phrase; a common spoken expression, often regional.

  • Vernacular (noun)

    The language of a people or a national language.

    “A vernacular of the United States is English.”

  • Vernacular (noun)

    Everyday speech or dialect, including colloquialisms, as opposed to standard, literary, liturgical, or scientific idiom.

    “Street vernacular can be quite different from what is heard elsewhere.”

  • Vernacular (noun)

    Language unique to a particular group of people; jargon, argot.

    “For those of a certain age, hiphop vernacular might just as well be a foreign language.”

  • Vernacular (noun)

    The indigenous language of a people, into which the words of the Mass are translated.

    “Vatican II allowed the celebration of the mass in the vernacular.”

  • Vernacular (adjective)

    Of or pertaining to everyday language, as opposed to standard, literary, liturgical, or scientific idiom.

  • Vernacular (adjective)

    Belonging to the country of one’s birth; one’s own by birth or nature; native; indigenous.

    “a vernacular disease”

  • Vernacular (adjective)

    Of or related to local building materials and styles; not imported.

  • Vernacular (adjective)

    Connected to a collective memory; not imported.

  • Colloquialism (noun)

    a word or phrase that is not formal or literary and is used in ordinary or familiar conversation

    “the colloquialisms of the streets”

  • Colloquialism (noun)

    the use of colloquialisms

    “speech allows for colloquialism and slang”

  • Vernacular (noun)

    the language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region

    “he wrote in the vernacular to reach a larger audience”

  • Vernacular (noun)

    the terminology used by people belonging to a specified group or engaging in a specialized activity

    “gardening vernacular”

  • Vernacular (noun)

    architecture concerned with domestic and functional rather than public or monumental buildings

    “buildings in which Gothic merged into farmhouse vernacular”

  • Vernacular (adjective)

    (of language) spoken as one’s mother tongue; not learned or imposed as a second language.

  • Vernacular (adjective)

    (of speech or written works) using the mother tongue of a country or region

    “vernacular literature”

  • Vernacular (adjective)

    (of architecture) concerned with domestic and functional rather than public or monumental buildings

    “vernacular buildings”

Oxford Dictionary

Vernacular Illustrations

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