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UTEL

Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown

Diachrony:

A term describing a mode of analysis that undertakes to construct the historical evolution of a system of thought or language. The synchronic, by contrast, undertakes to describe the system as an existing whole without respect to its history. Structural linguistics rejects the diachronic assumptions of classical philology, which studies linguistic change over a long period of time, and embraces the synchronic assumptions of Saussurian linguistics, which studies language as a functioning system existing in the here and now. (See also Structuralism.)


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University of Toronto
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Last modified: March 31, 1997