|Definition - A colony's retention of linguistic forms that have become obsolete or obsolescent in the mother country.|
Etymology - According to linguist Peter Trugdill in "A Window on the Past: “Colonial Lag” and New Zealand Evidence for the Phonology of 19th-century English"(1999), the term was coined by the American linguist Albert H. Marckwardt.
According to Trudgill, Marchkwardt wrote (in connection with the history of English in the United States):
"These post-colonial survivals of earlier phases of mother country culture, taken in conjunction with the retention of earlier linguistic features, have made what I should like to call a colonial lag. I mean to suggest by this term nothing more than that in a transplanted civilisation, such as ours undeniably is, certain features which it possesses remain static over a period of time. Transplanting usually results in a time lag before the organism, be it a geranium or a brook trout, becomes adapted to its new environment. There is no reason why the same principle should not apply to a people, their language, and their culture." (Marckwardt, Albert H. 1958. American English. New York: Oxford UP)