Diachrony

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Diachrony

 

(1) A set of methods of linguistics intended for the analysis of the historical development of a language.

(2) The corresponding area of general linguistics, which is opposed to synchrony. According to F. de Saussure, the subject of diachronic linguistics is the relations that connect elements in a historical sequence that is not perceived by one and the same collective consciousness—the elements replacing one another but not forming a system. The subject of synchronic linguistics is the logical and psychological relations that connect coexisting elements and form a system (how these elements are perceived by one and the same collective consciousness). C. Bally accepted Saussure’s view of synchrony and diachrony. The majority of linguists, while accepting the opposition of synchrony and diachrony itself, reject its absoluteness (the Swiss scholar A. Sechahaye, the Belgian scholar E. Buyssens, E. Coseriu). N. S. Trubetzkoy, R. O. Jakobson, and others, following Baudouin de Courtenay, believe that diachronic study does not exclude the concept of system and that synchronic description cannot entirely exclude the concept of evolution. Most modern linguists share this opinion. From the very beginning, the categorical nature of the opposition of synchrony and diachrony has been alien to Russian linguists, although this opposition is, in itself, justified as a methodological technique.

REFERENCES

O sootnoshenii sinkhronnogo analiza i istoricheskogo izucheniia iazykov. Moscow, 1960.
Saussure, F. de. Kurs obshchei lingvistiki. Moscow, 1933. (Translated from French.)
Coseriu, E. “Sinkhroniia, diakhroniia i istoriia.” In the collection Novoe v linqvistike, issue 3. Moscow, 1963.
Budagov, R. A. Problemy razvitiia iazyka. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Baudouin de Courtenay, I. A. Izbrannye trudy po obshchemu iazykoznaniiu, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from French.)

A. A. LEONT’EV

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