UTEL [ History of English | English Composition | Literary Authors | Literary Works | Literary Criticism ]
Glossary [ Main Entries | Key Words | Index of Names ]


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


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.)

© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
Hypertext and HTML by Christopher Douglas
University of Toronto English Library
Director: Ian Lancashire.
Last modified: March 31, 1997