PAPER 6 (DESCRIPTIVE LINGUISTICS)
Discuss synchronic and diachronic approaches to language.
In opposition to the totally historical view of language of the previous hundred years, Ferdinand de Saussure emphasized the importance of seeing from two distinct and largely exclusive points of view, which he called "synchronic" and "diachronic". The word "chronic" has been derived from Greek word "chronos" which means time. Synchronic linguistics sees language as a living whole, existing as a state at a particular point in time (an ital de langue, as Saussure put it, Greek "syn"-with, chronos - time). Diachronic linguistics concerns language in its historical development (Greek dia through, chronos - time). Thus descriptive linguistics is known as "synchronic linguistics" and studies a language at one particular period of time. Historical linguistics is known as diachronic or temporal linguistics and deals with the development of language through time. For example, the way in which French or Italian have evolved from Latin, and Hindi from Sanskrit. It also investigates language change.
A study of the change from Old to Middle English is a diachronic study. Old English
In the same way, the study of a writer's development from youth to maturity is an example of diachronic study. The way in which Shakespeare's style changes from youth to maturity is also an instance of diachronic study. Saussure says: "Synchronic linguistics will concern the logical and psychological relations that bind together co-existing terms and from a system in the collective mind of speakers. Diachronic linguistics, on the contrary, will study relations that bind together successive terms, not perceived by the collective mind but substituted for each other without forming a system."
Thus synchronic linguistics deals with systems whereas diachronic with units. The relationship between the both aspects of language study was diagrammatically...
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