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  1. #1
    philadelphia's Avatar
    philadelphia is offline Senior Member
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    Default Colloquial English

    'Colloquial English is a term given to spoken English used in common speech. It is not the same as Standard English and will differ from region to region'.

    Hello, dear teachers and folks! I need your help so for me to understand better you native speakers in real-life situations and in everyday conversations. In other words, the kind of language that you could speak with your friends regardless of English grammar, school constructions and whatnot.

    I would like you to provide plenty of examples of colloquialisms - add the location if necessary. I will take everything or so. Eg films, videos, websites, you can for instance write a conversation in a particular situation (in a restaurant, on the beach, you have just come across a friend of you that you have not seen for a long time, etc).


    Coca-cola = coke
    You all = y'all
    Going to/want to = gonna/wanna
    How do you do = howdo
    Having a joke = he's pulling my leg
    Isn't, hasn't = ain't
    I don't know = dunno
    A carbonated soft drink = pop (upper midwestern US)/ tonic (England)/ ginger (Scotland)
    Where are you from? = Ya from?
    Every other week or twice a week = biweekly
    Don't mess up = don't screw up.
    What are you going to do? = whacha gonna do?
    He watches too much TV = he is a couch potato


    That list is not exhaustive at all. It is just to show you how it could go.

    I have stumbled upon a couple of websites: PLABWISE™ - Making PLAB Easy; Colloquialism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Thank you in advance. Each single post will be appreciated.
    Last edited by philadelphia; 30-Jul-2010 at 23:06. Reason: Typo

  2. #2
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Colloquial English

    Hi,
    I think you are mixing a few different things here. Some are pronunciation, some are slang, and some are regional variations.

    For example, I SAY "gonna" in rapid speech, but I only write it in total jest (Oh yeah? Sez you! Whatcha gonna do about it?) or as dialogue. I never write "I'm gonna look into that for you" -- same with "wanna." I'm sure I say it, but I'd rather have my fingers broken then type it they way I see people use it online all the time now. That's a pronunciation issue, as is your "whatcha gonna" example.

    Slang are words like "couch potato" (note it's couch, not cough) or "screw up."

    Regional variation are things like soda vs. pop. (I say soda, my husband from the Midwest says pop.) Other examples include sack vs. bag, faucet vs. tap, etc. These aren't even colloquial, I think - it's simply the name things have depending on where you live.

    So what is it you're trying to accomplish with your question? It will help me answer your more effectively.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Colloquial English

    "Biweekly" is not slang or colloquial, either.

  4. #4
    philadelphia's Avatar
    philadelphia is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Colloquial English

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Hi,
    I think you are mixing a few different things here. Some are pronunciation, some are slang, and some are regional variations.

    For example, I SAY "gonna" in rapid speech, but I only write it in total jest (Oh yeah? Sez you! Whatcha gonna do about it?) or as dialogue. I never write "I'm gonna look into that for you" -- same with "wanna." I'm sure I say it, but I'd rather have my fingers broken then type it they way I see people use it online all the time now. That's a pronunciation issue, as is your "whatcha gonna" example.

    Slang are words like "couch potato" (note it's couch, not cough) or "screw up."

    Regional variation are things like soda vs. pop. (I say soda, my husband from the Midwest says pop.) Other examples include sack vs. bag, faucet vs. tap, etc. These aren't even colloquial, I think - it's simply the name things have depending on where you live.

    So what is it you're trying to accomplish with your question? It will help me answer your more effectively.
    I would just need to get relaxed with coloquial English. I mean that if I were to go to an English-speaking country, I really would like to understand all they say. Eg I knew a couple of my friends who had a good English level and then when they went to England, they seriouly felt bad as they could not understand a word or so.


    By the way, it is quite weird that you (SoothingDave and Barbara) find some words or phrases to be not colloquial English as they are listed as colloquial English at wikipedia and at other websites.
    Last edited by philadelphia; 30-Jul-2010 at 20:13.

  5. #5
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Colloquial English

    Quote Originally Posted by philadelphia View Post
    I would just need to get relaxed with coloquial English. I mean that if I were to go to an English-speaking country, I really would like to understand all they say. Eg I knew a couple of my friends who had a good English level and then when they went to England, they seriouly felt bad as they could not understand a word or so.


    By the way, it is quite weird that you (SoothingDave and Barbara) find some words or phrases to be not colloquial English as they are listed as colloquial English at wikipedia and at other websites.
    What you hear will depend, as you say, on which country you travel to and which area of that country you are in.

    As far as quoting Wikipedia, it's a fact that you can't believe everything you read on the internet!!!

    You also need to decide what sort of layout you want the suggestions to be. In your original list, some of the phrases are shown in "formal" English first, then the slang/colloquialism etc, and some are the other way round. It's going to get very confusing that way!

  6. #6
    philadelphia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Colloquial English

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    What you hear will depend, as you say, on which country you travel to and which area of that country you are in.

    As far as quoting Wikipedia, it's a fact that you can't believe everything you read on the internet!!!

    You also need to decide what sort of layout you want the suggestions to be. In your original list, some of the phrases are shown in "formal" English first, then the slang/colloquialism etc, and some are the other way round. It's going to get very confusing that way!
    And I do not believe everything I read on the internet - take it for sure. However, colloquial English implies lots of stuff. It is very often on the verge of slang English and it depends on where you are and whom you are talking to as well, hence it is rather hard to put strict limits on it.

    I would just need to get relaxed with colloquial English. So if I were to go to an English-speaking country, I could understand better any native speakers or so. Clearly, I wrote first the formal way and further (=) the colloquial way to say it. Those are a few examples of what I am looking for.
    Last edited by philadelphia; 31-Jul-2010 at 06:36.

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Colloquial English

    I think you might be worrying too much- colloquial and slang blur quite a bit. It can come as a shock to hear native speakers speaking among themselves at first- even native speakers of other variants can find the differences much more marked than they thought they would be.

    Words can change very fast- I went back ater a year away and found that people no longer referred to those very long articulated buses as bendy buses but were calling them free buses because of the ease with which you can ride without paying. I generally go back once a year and find that I need to update some of my vocab. An American smoker had practised saying fag because he knew that's what people call cigarettes in the UK, while it's a rude term for gay in the US, only to discover that that year everyone was calling them tabs instead. This sort of usage is affected by TV programmes, adverts, the news, etc and is in constant change.

    PS The carbonated soft drink, you have tonic as the English version, but that would only be tonic water to me. They could be fizzy/sparkling drinks or pop for the general term.

  8. #8
    philadelphia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Colloquial English

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I think you might be worrying too much- colloquial and slang blur quite a bit. It can come as a shock to hear native speakers speaking among themselves at first- even native speakers of other variants can find the differences much more marked than they thought they would be.

    Words can change very fast- I went back ater a year away and found that people no longer referred to those very long articulated buses as bendy buses but were calling them free buses because of the ease with which you can ride without paying. I generally go back once a year and find that I need to update some of my vocab. An American smoker had practised saying fag because he knew that's what people call cigarettes in the UK, while it's a rude term for gay in the US, only to discover that that year everyone was calling them tabs instead. This sort of usage is affected by TV programmes, adverts, the news, etc and is in constant change.

    PS The carbonated soft drink, you have tonic as the English version, but that would only be tonic water to me. They could be fizzy/sparkling drinks or pop for the general term.
    It is quite interesting as to how you think of the point as we see it the same way. Indeed, we agree that colloquial English and slang English blur; be sure that this thread has not been created to make any difference. This is not the matter at all.

    The matter is that I do feel there is a huge gap between watching films or listening to radios or academic English and speaking to/ hearing native speakers in their own country and with their friends. I am used to hearing and speaking to native speakers in a formal way and often in a friendly way at work, so there is no problem for me to understand them and speak to them -I guess they must make some efforts to speak clearly. But hey how could it go if I were in an English-speaking country? As you said, it could come as a shock; I would like that shock to be minor. This is what I am asking for. Could you do something?

    I have noted your words.

    I really hope it is clear now.
    Last edited by philadelphia; 01-Aug-2010 at 09:50. Reason: Double quote sup'

  9. #9
    shroob is offline Member
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    Default Re: Colloquial English

    Not a teacher only a native speaker.

    You might be a long time compiling that list, and even then there will be large variations between regions let alone countries. For example in England people from different counties (regions) have totally different words for the same thing.

    For example in reference to an earlier post, I'm from Yorkshire and if it wasn't for visiting Newcastle United fans I wouldn't know what a 'tab' was, I would call them a cigarette. I even had problems being understood at university as I was told my accent was strong and some words I used utterly perplexed some people.

    So while I wish you luck in your quest, I think it will be a long one, I wouldn't be too worried if you do visit an English speaking country, you seem to have a good grasp of it already so I don't think you will have any problems.

  10. #10
    Mister Nutty is offline Member
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    Default Re: Colloquial English

    If you've never been to an English country, and want to understand word English speakers say, watch tons of English movies. That's a good way to train your ears!

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