From Teflpedia

An idiolect, from Greek idios ‘own, distinct’ + -lect as in dialect,[1] is the language or speech pattern of one individual at a particular period of life.[2]

The idea of individualistic, personal, or private languages has been discussed by philosophers such as Wittgenstein,[3] and linguists such as Chomsky.

Another definition of ‘idiolect’ is that of a "person's incomplete or erroneous grasp of their language, where this latter is inherently social."[4]

By way of example, this relatively well-educated teflpedia editor, brought up in a posh part of South West London in the 1960s, was unaware of the "brought" forms of the verb "bring" until coming across a list of irregular verbs - for EFL students - during his teacher training... His idiolect had the non-standard usage: bring, brang, brung.

See also[edit]


  1. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary
  2. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  3. Wittgenstein, L. (1953) Philosophical Investigations, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe, 3rd edition, 1967, Oxford: Blackwell
  4. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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