Difference Between Dialect and Slang

Main Difference – Dialect vs Slang

Dialect and slang are two important terms in the language. Dialect refers to a variety of language spoken in a certain geographical area or spoken by a particular group of people. Slang is an informal nonstandard variety of speech which consists of newly coined and rapidly changing words and phrases. The main difference between dialect and slang is that slang is distinguished by its vocabulary whereas dialect indicates differences in grammar, vocabulary as well as in pronunciation.

This article explains, 

1. What is a Dialect? – Definition, Characteristics, and Examples

2. What is a Slang? – Definition, Characteristics, and Examples

3. Difference Between Dialect and Slang 

Difference Between Dialect and Slang - infographic

What is Dialect

A dialect is a variety of a language spoken in a particular geographical area or by a particular group of people. It differs from the standard variety of a language. These differences are based on variations in grammar, pronunciation, or vocabulary

Dialects can be divided into two categories known as standard and non-standard dialects.  A standard dialect is the one that is approved and supported by institutions, and non-standard dialects are those that are not supported by institutions.  For example, the Spanish language has many dialects such as  Basque,  Galician, and Catalan, but it is Castilian which is considered to be the standard version.

A person’s pronunciation, use of vocabulary and grammar indicate the dialect he is speaking and this dialect, in turn, can reflect details like geographical location, social background, and education of that person.

There is no standard definition or method to identify the difference between language and a dialect. The most common method to identify the difference between the two is the mutual intelligibility. If two speakers of different language varieties can understand each other, then the two varieties are known as dialects. If not, they are classified as different languages.

Difference Between Dialect and Slang

Albanian Dialects

What is Slang

Slang is an informal nonstandard variety of speech which consists of newly coined and rapidly changing words and phrases. It is regarded as very informal and therefore, more common in speech than in writing. Slang is typically restricted to a particular context or group of people.

Slang also marks group membership since it is a correlate of human groups with shared experiences. For example, children at a certain school or of a certain age may create and speak their own slang. Some other examples of such certain socially definable groups include taxi drivers, jazz musicians, or professional criminals, police officers, etc. Thus, use of slang reflects an individual’s membership in a certain social group as well as attitudes.

Given below are some examples of slang words:

beemer – a BMW

bonkers – crazy

razz – annoy someone

turkey  – failure, flop

noid – someone that’s paranoid

Main Difference - Dialect vs Slang

Australian Slang

Difference Between Dialect and Slang


Dialect is a variety of a language spoken in a particular geographical area or by a particular group of people. 

Slang is an informal nonstandard variety of speech which consists of newly coined and rapidly changing words and phrases.


Dialect is distinguished by its vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

Slang is distinguished by its vocabulary.


Dialect can be standard or nonstandard.

Slang is nonstandard and informal.


Dialect usually indicates that the speaker belongs to a particular geographical location.

Slang can reflect an individual’s membership in a certain social group.

Image Courtesy: 

“Albanian dialects” By Arnold Platon – Own work, based on map , and , via

“Australian Slang: Billabong, Bunghole, Furphy and Mateship courtesy of ” by   via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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