The first step that we are going to take is to know the etymological origin of the word diachrony that now concerns us. In this case, we can state that it is a term that derives from Greek, since it is the result of the union of several components of that language:
-The prefix “dia-”, which can be translated as “through”.
-The noun “kronos”, which is synonymous with “time”.
-The suffix “-ia”, which is used to indicate “quality”.
The concept refers to the succession of events over time.
Diachrony is linked to a succession of events in time.
What is diachrony
Diachrony is often linked to the analysis of social phenomena according to their different historical phases. In this way the facts are studied in their chronological continuity.
Starting from this meaning, we can establish, therefore, that the different eras of humanity are a clear example of diachrony. Thus, the Ancient Age is followed by the Middle Ages and then the Modern Age, for example.
Diachrony is related to a temporal sequence.
Differences with synchronicity
One can differentiate between diachrony and synchrony. While the diachronic is related to a development in a temporal sequence, the synchronic alludes to the observation of the phenomena at the specific moment of their evolution. In other words: diachrony refers to considering the same event at different times, while synchrony is associated with different events at the same time.
A diachronic perspective of Argentine history, for example, can begin its journey at the beginning of the 19th century with the struggle for independence, continue with the internal conflicts between unitary and federal, review the process of constitutional organization, analyze the alternation between military governments and democratic, study the last military dictatorship that developed between 1976 and 1983 and reach the democratic stage that is still in force and in development.
Diachrony in linguistics
The different temporal approaches also appear in the field of linguistics. Diachrony, in this area, involves studying the historical evolution of the language, considering the changes it has undergone since its inception to the present. Synchrony, on the other hand, focuses on a precise moment in the development of the language.
In the linguistic field, we can highlight that a fundamental figure in the study of language, as well as in the establishment of the terms diachrony and synchrony, is the Swiss academic Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913), who is considered the father of the study of language. modern. That he spoke of those concepts in his work “Course of General Linguistics”.
His work, ideas and principles were used by many other scholars, including the British linguist John Lyons (1932), a benchmark in the field of semantics, who went a step further. Thus, he came to establish, among other things, that it was really complicated to establish a clear and precise differentiation between what was the synchronic change of the language and its diachronic change.