Difference between Synchronic and Diachronic approaches of Linguistics (language Study)

Difference between Synchronic and Diachronic Linguistics (approach to study of language)

Table of Contents:-

Introduction : Synchronic & Diachronic Linguistics :-

Synchronic and diachronic are the two approches that have evolved for the study of a language(s). Synchronic is the study of a language at a specific period of time usually at present. While diachronic approach studies the evolution and changes in languages through time. For example the study of English language that how it has evolved from Latin and Greek would fall under the diachronic approach/ linguistics.

Difference between Synchronic and Diachronic Linguistics

इस आर्टिकल को हिन्दी मे पढ़ने के लिए नीचे दी हुई लिंक पर जाएं:-Difference between the synchronic and diachronic approaches for the study of a language in HINDI.

Before we shall move toward discussing the difference between the Synchronic and diachronic linguistic, let's first discuss What are the Synchronic and Diachronic Linguistics or the Synchronic and diachronic approaches to study of a language:-

Synchronic Linguistics:-

Synchronic linguistics, also known as descriptive or general linguistics, is the analytical study of a language at a particular time, usually at its present form. However the study of a language at any point in past also falls under this but that study should be only of a state of language at that point of time. It means it studies the language at a particular period without any reference to its earlier or later stages.

Synchronic approach analyses how people use a language to share their ideas in a speech community at a given point in time. It studies and compares how the same language is used differently by spatially apart peoples. It is the study of the grammar, classification and arrangements of the features of a language.

Diachronic Linguistics:-

Diachronic linguistics, literal meaning across-time, is the study of a language through different periods in history. It is the study of the development and evolution of a language. It examines that how a language has changed and gone through modifications in history. 
Its main  concerns are as follows:

  1. To describe and account for the observed changes in particular languages.
  2. To reconstruct the pre-history of languages and determine their relatedness, grouping them into language families.
  3. To Evolve theories about how and why a language changes.
  4. To describe the history of speech communities.
  5. To study the etymology or the history of words.

Important Links
American Literature Ralf Waldo Emerson
British Literature King Lear (Summary & Plot)
Indian English Writings Anita Desai
Literary Criticism Longinus: The Sublime

Now, as we have discussed enough about Synchronic and Diachronic Linguistics, let's have a look at the differences between these two approaches to study of languages i.e. Synchronic and Diachronic Linguistics.

Difference between Synchronic and Diachronic Linguistics:-

Linguists in 19th century focused on the historical aspects of a language. Their main attention was towards the analysis of different languages, how they have gone through modifications over time and grouping them into language families on the basis of their common origin. This all research come under the diachronic linguistics.

       Synchronic Linguistics/ approach was introduced by a Swiss linguist Ferdinand De Saussure in his Course on General Linguistics, which was published posthumously in 1916. Saussure gave primacy to the synchronic approach over diachronic approach for, he argues, the first thing that confronts a speaker when he study the facts of a language is its one particular state, the succession of the language in time doesn't matter for speaker.

Furthermore, an authentic diachronic work can only be made if we have a good description of the synchronic work. Although the etymology of synchronic approach is misleading as it means with time but it studies the description of a language, it grammar, classification and the arrangement of its features.

       While diachronic linguistics, which literally means across-time, studies the etymology of words, comparison of languages and their evolution in time. The two approaches are quite different and need to be persued individually.

Difference in Synchronic & Diachronic Linguistics
Synchronic Linguistics Diachronic Linguistic
The branch of linguistics that analyzes the structure of a language or languages as static, at a given point in their history. The branch of linguistics that studies Language through different periods in history.
Study of a language at any given point in time. Study of a language through different periods in history.
Does not focus on the history of language and language evolution. Focuses on the history of language and language evolution.
It studies grammer, classification and  arrangement of the features of a language. It is comparative linguistics, studies etymology and language evolution.


  1. Organs of Speech.
  2. Approaches to study of language.
  3. Registers, dialect and style.
  4. Phonemes and allophones.
  5. Difference between phonetics and phonology.

Frequently Asked Questions:-

1) The scientific study of language is called?

Answer- Linguistics.

2) Synchronic Linguistics/approach was propounded by?

Answer- Ferdinand De Saussure.

3) Diachronic linguistics is also termed as?

Answer- Historical Linguistics.
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