World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Synchrony and diachrony

Article Id: WHEBN0015720083
Reproduction Date:

Title: Synchrony and diachrony  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Sociology, Diachronic, Synchrony, Ferdinand de Saussure, Linguistics
Collection: Ferdinand De Saussure, Linguistics, Sociological Terminology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Synchrony and diachrony

Synchrony and diachrony are two different and complementary viewpoints in linguistic analysis:

  • a diachronic approach considers the development and evolution of a language through history. The word is built on the Ancient Greek words δια "through" and χρόνος "time". Historical linguistics is typically a diachronic study.
  • a synchronic approach considers a language without taking its history into account. The word is built on the Ancient Greek words συν "with" and χρόνος "time". Synchronic linguistics aims at describing language rules at a specific point of time, even though they may have been different at an earlier stage of the language. School grammar typically uses a synchronic (as well as prescriptive) approach.

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.

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.


  • Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics. Eds. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye. Trans. Roy Harris. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court. 1983 ISBN 0-8126-9023-0
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.