What is a colloquialism?
- Words or phrases that are not literary or formal
- Words or phrases that are from everyday language
- Off the hook
- Totally hot
- Ripped my heart out
- Tickled me to death
What is a euphemism?
- Words or phrases that are chosen for their ability to make a harsh concept, milder
- Pass away (instead of to die)
- Turn a trick (instead of prostitution)
- Fall off the wagon (instead of using/drinking again)
- On the streets (instead of homeless)
- Take out the trash (instead of murder)
What is slang?
- Words or phrases that are more commonly used in speech, rather than in writing
Words or phrases that are considered very informal
- Ride (referring to a vehicle)
- My bad
- Does the colloquialism, euphemism, or slang make the writing stronger or weaker?
Is the wording chosen, unique to a small portion of the world, or country?
- An example of this, is in the amazingly successful series, Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling. Her wording was understood implicitly by her audience in Britain, but when her audience in America read that Snape had done a bunk—we had to figure out the meaning by either taking in the surrounding information, and assume we had the answer, or we jumped on Google, and figured out it meant to escape, or flee.
How much effort are you wanting your reader to go through, in order to read your writing?
- A pillow is nice and soft, and has its place to elicit relaxation, but a dump truck dropping three thousand pillows on you—not exactly the same result.
- Words or phrases placed appropriately, will engage your readers.
- Words or phrases overused, or a story under-told because of the fluffy fillers, has a negative, and potentially lasting reaction to your readers.
“Three types of commonly used casual language include slang, colloquialisms, and euphemisms. Slang is an informal nonstandard vocabulary, usually made up of arbitrarily changed words. A colloquialism is a local or regional informal dialect or expression. A euphemism substitutes an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant. When our language is too casual, audiences might not be able to follow the main ideas of the speech, or they become confused or uncomfortable.”
(Cindy L. Griffin, Invitation to Public Speaking, 3rd ed. Wadsworth, Cengage, 2009) [found on grammar.about.com]
“If you use a colloquialism or a slang word or phrase, simply use it; do not draw attention to it by enclosing it in quotation marks. To do so is to put on airs, as though you were inviting the reader to join you in a select society of those who know better.”(William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, 4th ed. Longman, 1999) [found on grammar.about.com]