synchrony and diachrony


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synchrony and diachrony

  1. (LINGUISTICS) the distinction between the study of language as an existing system of relationships and without reference to the past (synchrony) and the study of the changes in language over time (diachrony) - See also SAUSSURE.
  2. (STRUCTURALISM) the distinction, deriving from the above, between an analysis and explanation of any feature of social life carried out with reference to existing 'structural’ features of a society or social system, without reference to history (synchrony), and historical analysis which focuses on change (diachrony).
  3. (similarly, but in sociology more generally) the distinction between accounts of social order and accounts of social change. For example, in his account of social evolutionary processes, Harré Social Being (1979) distinguishes between 'synchronic replicators’ and ‘diachronic selectors’.
In structuralism the distinction has often been associated with the downgrading of the significance of historical explanations, and an associated downgrading of the role of the SUBJECT and human agency, and the elevation of structural explanations to supreme status. However, there is no inherent reason why structural explanations and historical explanations should not be combined, or structural explanations combined with explanations in terms of the agency of individual human subjects (see STRUCTURE AND AGENCY, DUALITY OF STRUCTURE, STRUCTURATION THEORY). However, this is more easily said than done, with some sociologists, whether for convenience or for reasons of principle, preferring to concentrate on one or the other (see also EPOCHÉ).
References in periodicals archive ?
Exploring non-finite structures and their diachronic change across languages, linguists relate the synchrony and diachrony of infinitival systems in different languages to each other based on empirical data, and show the extent to which they can account for infinitival systems of modern languages by examining changes in earlier language periods.
The study encompasses parametric variation in synchrony and diachrony, the syntax of the be-possessive in Russian, the consequences of the be-possessive structure: modal and perfect, ergativity in North Russian, microvariations in case and agreement, the historical extension of the syntax of the be-possessive to the be-modal, and the development of the -no-to perfect.
In the article, we attempt to explore Schlauch's understanding of synchrony and diachrony as seen in the context of her views on language non-autonomy as well as to relate the findings to the ongoing discussion within functional linguistics on the synchronic vis-a-vis diachronic dimensions of "subjectivity in grammaticalization".
Saussure's reliance on dichotomous oppositions (speech and system, signification and value, synchrony and diachrony, paradigmatic and syntagmatic) suggests the negative divisiveness of "difference", while Peirce's repeated use of trichotomous concepts (sign, object and interpretant) points toward the positive richness of "mediation".
He begins by relegating the antinomy between synchrony and diachrony to the periphery, and identifying the smaller but deeper core of theories that can account for both dimensions of phenomena.
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