The Linguistic Features of Dialects and Slang

The Linguistic Features of Dialects and Slang

Language is constantly evolving, and with it comes a plethora of dialects and slang. These linguistic features are crucial in giving communities a sense of identity and belonging. Dialects are variations of a language that are specific to a particular region or social group. Slang, on the other hand, refers to a set of informal words or phrases that are used in everyday conversations.

In this article, we will explore the linguistic features of dialects and slang, and how they differ from the standard or 'proper' form of a language.


One of the most significant differences between dialects and the standard form of a language is their phonological features. In linguistics, phonology refers to the study of the sound system of a language. Different regions and social groups have distinct phonetic features that set them apart from others.

For instance, a speaker of a Southern American dialect may pronounce the word 'pen' as 'pin', while a speaker of a British dialect may pronounce the word 'bath' as 'baath'. These variations in pronunciation are not considered standard but are accepted in the dialect spoken in the region.


Syntax refers to the set of rules that govern how words are arranged in a sentence. Dialects often have unique syntax, which is different from the standard form of a language. For example, the sentence "I ain't got no money", is considered ungrammatical in standard English but is widely accepted in African American Vernacular English (AAVE).

Slang, on the other hand, often borrows syntax from the standard form of the language but adds a touch of informality to it. For instance, the phrase 'What's up?' is commonly used in informal settings to mean 'How are you?'. The phrase uses the standard syntax but is considered informal, perhaps because of its widespread usage in informal contexts.


Vocabulary is perhaps the most noticeable feature of dialects and slang. Different regions and social groups have different words and phrases that are only used by members of that group or region. For example, the word 'craic' is commonly used in Ireland to mean 'fun' or 'enjoyment', while the phrase 'y'all' is commonly used in Southern American dialects as a second-person plural pronoun.

Slang vocabulary is often ephemeral and changes rapidly. New words and phrases are coined and fall out of fashion quickly. For instance, the word 'lit,' which means exciting or cool, was popular a few years ago but has since been replaced by newer slang terms.


Idioms are phrases that are unique to a particular language, region, or social group. They are often colorful and expressive, but their meanings cannot be deduced from the literal definitions of the words that make up the phrase. For example, the idiom "when pigs fly," means that something is impossible to happen.

In conclusion, dialects and slang are essential linguistic features that reflect the social, cultural, and historical contexts of a community. These variations enrich the language and give it depth and complexity. While they may not conform to the standard form of a language, they are a crucial part of the linguistic landscape and should be celebrated.