Synchrony and diachrony
are two different and complementary viewpoints in linguistic
analysis. A synchronic approach (from Greek συν- "together" and χρόνος "time") considers a language at a moment in time without taking its history into account. Synchronic linguistics aims at describing a language at a specific point of time, usually the present. By contrast, a diachronic
approach (from δια- "through" and χρόνος "time") considers the development and evolution of a language through history. Historical linguistics
is typically a diachronic study.
The concepts were theorized by the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, professor of general linguistics in Geneva from 1896 to 1911, and appeared in writing in his posthumous Course in General Linguistics published in 1916. In contrast with most of his predecessors, who focused on historical evolution of languages, Saussure emphasized the primacy of synchronic analysis to understand their inner functioning, though never forgetting the importance of complementary diachrony. This dualistic opposition has been carried over into philosophy and sociology, for instance by Roland Barthes and Jean-Paul Sartre. Jacques Lacan also used it for psychoanalysis.
This page was last edited on 16 March 2018, at 23:47 (UTC)
under CC BY-SA license.