Language and Linguistics

synchrony and diachrony

concepts of linguistics diachrony and synchrony

Synchronous and diachronic

Saussure believes that it is not possible to fully describe a language if this is done in isolation from the community that uses it and in turn the effects that time has on language (its evolution).

Indeed, during the course of time, language evolves, which shows that the signs change. Consequently, Saussure states that a language can be studied both at a particular time and through its evolution over time. In this sense, it will differentiate two modalities regarding the use of language:

Synchronous : ( synchronous, at the same time ) Examines the relationships between the coexisting elements of the language regardless of any temporal factor. It allows to describe the state of the linguistic system, being this comprehensive description of all the interacting elements in the language.

Diachronic : ( diachronic, through time ) It focuses on the evolutionary process and focuses on those fragments that correspond to certain historical moments.

For the linguist who aims to make a complete description of a particular language, the diachronic and synchronous analysis, although this is not necessary for a linguistic community. This means that when the language system is verbalized, only synchronous elements intervene since no one needs to know the history of a language to make use of it. On the other hand, diachronic factors do not alter the system as such. To explain this point, Saussure uses a planetary metaphor, saying that if a planet in the solar system changes in weight and size, such changes would alter the balance of the whole as a whole, although the solar system would still be a whole. .

Although the synchronic and diachronic facts are autonomous, there is a relationship of interdependence between the two. It is not possible to know the state of a language if we do not analyze the changes it suffered.

Saussure will say that the functioning of a language is like chess. Chess is, like language, a group of different values ​​that together make up a complete system. The chess pieces interact just like the elements of a language in a synchronous state. When a piece moves, the effect is similar to a linguistic change and it is up to the diachronic analysis. Although the movement is only that of a piece, this movement will affect the entire system as a whole. The state of the board has changed: it is one before the play, and it becomes another after, but the move itself does not belong to either of those two states (because the states are synchronous).

The synchronic linguistics deals with logical and psychological relations that link the terms that coexist in a system, the diachronic linguistics deals with terms that are replaced each other when the system evolves, but do not form a system.

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