What is the Purpose of Jargon Slang and Colloquialisms

Jargon, Slang, and Colloquialisms

Jargon is a type of language that is used in a particular context, and it may not be understood outside of that particular context. This context is usually an occupation – usually a profession, trade or academic field. Jargons are technical terminology. For example, code eleven in police jargon means that the officer is at the scene of the crime. (Read more about Jargon

Slang is a non-standard colloquial variety of language which consists of newly coined and rapidly changing words and phrases. Slang is much common in speech than in writing. The use of slang reflects an individual’s membership in a particular social group as well as his or her attitudes. For example, bonkers is a slang for mad, and turkey is a slang for failure or flop. (Read more about Slang)

Colloquialism is a word, phrase or other form used in informal language. The term colloquial language refers to a variety of language which is commonly used in conversations and other informal situations. This is the opposite of formal speech and formal writing. For example,

“When you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something.”

– Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Sallinger

Although many people associate slang with colloquialism, not all colloquial speeches contain slang.

What is the Purpose of Jargon Slang and Colloquialisms

What is the Purpose of Jargon Slang and Colloquialisms

Jargon, slang, and colloquialisms have different purposes. As mentioned above, both jargon and slang are used by particular social groups. Thus, it can be argued that both of them reflect group identity and help members of a group to distinguish group members from outsiders. They also prevent the transmission of certain information to the outside, i.e., since jargon and slang are not often understood by people outside that particular group or context, the information transmitted is not understood by other parties.

Jargon, however, has another main purpose. It enables effective and efficient communication. For example, let’s see some examples of police jargon. Jargon like code eight (officer needs help immediately), code eleven (officer is at the crime scene), D&D (drunk and disorderly), BOLO (be on the lookout), etc. are able to communicate long sentences using a limited number of words.

Authors use jargons, slang, and colloquialisms to add an element of reality into their work. For example, you might have seen some of the above-mentioned police jargon in detective or mystery novels.


  • Jargon is a type of language that is used in a particular context; this context is usually an occupation.
  • Slang is a nonstandard variety of language which consists of newly coined and rapidly changing words and phrases.
  • Colloquialism refers to words and phrases in colloquial language which is a variety of language which is commonly used in conversations and other informal situations.
  • Jargon and slang can indicate group membership and ensure the secrecy of certain information.
  • Jargon can enable effective and efficient communication.
  • Authors use jargon, slang, and colloquialism to make their work realistic.

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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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