Synchrony and diachrony - Wikipedia
The defining difference between diachronic and synchronic linguistics study has to do with time. First of all, all linguistic study prior to Saussure was diachronic. Help us improve the way we communicate with researchers. Using synchronic and diachronic relations for summarizing multiple documents describing Exploiting cross-document relations for multi-document evolving summarization. Synchrony and diachrony are two different and complementary viewpoints in linguistic analysis. Synchronic linguistics aims at describing a language at a specific point of time, usually the present. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.
This distinction has proven very useful to discriminate internal properties of grammars and linguistic features, dependent on external sociolinguistic considerations Sobin, ; Lightfoot, ; Lasnik and Sobin, ; Madariaga, ; etc.
Synchrony and Diachrony
The conditions of language transmission can be altered by modifications of the PLD, triggered by external random sociolinguistic factors, phonological erosion, previous unrelated morphosyntactic changes, drops in frequency of the relevant input, etc. Some authors, however, refine this idea by proposing certain regularities imposed by our Language Acquisition Device LADwhich can lead learners to acquire a structure in a new way with respect to the previous generation of speakers, thus giving rise to diachronic change.
This is depicted by some authors in the form of hierarchies arranging the parametric choices available in acquisition according to more or less marked options. These options determine the probability of a parameter to be set in one way or another and, therefore, the possible ways in which change will most likely take place Roberts,p. Other biases determining, at least partially, language change are considerations of optimality, economy, and a tendency of grammars to become simpler van Gelderen, Here are the views at this respect: With the advent of the minimalist program, third factor effects are also acknowledged to be implied in diachronic change Biberauer and Roberts, Diachronic changes affecting E-languages, i.
All these considerations lead us to ask ourselves about the locus of variation in minimalism.
Here we also face different options, which do not necessarily exclude each other: In what follows, I will focus on the main goal of this paper, which is to vindicate the role of historical change in formal accounts. This idea does not imply that change has a direct effect on synchronic stages of a language, because we know that speakers do not have access to the I-grammars of previous generations as represented in Andersen's, Abduction principle.
But diachronic change definitely can shed light on the ways variation has to be understood, and even on the paths that I-languages follow in order to be configured. Diachrony interacts with synchronic accounts in different ways, for example, a fundamental reason that led some scholars to revisit cartographic and lexicalist approaches to the synchrony of languages was the need to explain acquisition and change through it Roberts, But the study of historical change also helps us understand synchronic language-specific properties and concrete instances of variation cf.
Following these lines, the case study presented in the following sections constitutes an illustrative example of how diachronic data can clarify the puzzle posited by an instance of variation in a synchronic stage of a language.
A synchronic variation phenomenon: Timberlakep. Those are verbs including the following semantic components 1: Almost all of them are active without the suffix —sjaand their alternation pattern is semantically determined, unlike the alternation discussed in this paper.
Understanding Grammars through Diachronic Change
Weak intensional active verbs, unlike the verbs under study in this paper, display a clear cut semantic distribution of case marking: In the latter, much fuzzier factors dealing with declension class, language level, and the speaker's age are involved, as we will see later on in this paper 2. The nature of this alternation strongly suggests that we are dealing with a change in progress: First, there is an undoubtedly high degree not only of interspeaker variation, but also of intraspeaker variation, which points to a situation of double coding or, at least, of competing grammars Kroch, ; Yang,introduced in the previous section.
Second, some authors have observed an increase of the accusative pattern in recent decades, together with a higher frequency of use of the accusative pattern among younger speakers and colloquial registers Krys'ko, ; Nesset and Kuznetsova, a.
E-level phenomena in the previous section: Afterward, I will offer my own proposal, which introduces diachronic data, and show in which way it is more explanatory than the purely synchronic accounts proposed so far. Synchronic approaches according to different linguistic orientations Non-formal approaches In this section, I will review three previous studies on this specific topic or in more general, but directly related, phenomena of the Russian language.
Special attention is to be given to multifunctionality as a result of diachronic expansion and in this sense as a manifestation of the interface. Several chapters in the volume account for multifunctional forms and discuss both their origin and the changes they undergo see chapters by Voghera and van de Pol-Cuyckens. Language contact as a trigger of language change has raised the interest of many linguists Matras Although certain processes are more likely to take place than others e.
As to the main issue of the volume, we may note that contact between languages may extend over centuries and may produce both synchronic variation between old forms and forms taken from the model language, and diachronic change leading to the gradual spreading of the model language forms and meanings. Sorbian, Czech and Slovenian Breu In his study of South- ern Italian dialects De Angelis provides further evidence of contact-induced changes in complement clause system.
To conclude, the cases discussed above, as well as other works presented in the rel- evant literature, nicely illustrate both synchronic variation and diachronic gradualness in the spread of contact-induced change. Analogy is another manifestation of the interface: It must be noted that the status of analogy in linguistic theory has received several interpretations: Furthermore it may be based on concrete lexi- cal items as well as more abstract schemas.
Several papers in this volume see in particular the papers in part i by Margerie, Disney, Melissaropoulou show how considering analogy as a driving force of change helps to achieve a better understanding of what goes on in language change.
Focus on theoretical and methodological issues Two issues have been raised in the previous sections that are crucial to a discussion on the possible theoretical and methodological approaches to the synchrony-diachrony interface: Language variation is the realization of the dynamism intrinsic to natural languages and it is thus reasonable to assume that theoretical approaches and methodologies accounting for linguistic variation are the most suitable to capture and describe the manifestations of the synchrony-diachrony interface.
In particular, in recent years the debate has focused on the factors triggering the irst steps of language change, that is, on how language change starts out of synchronic variation. Constructions may concern every level of grammar, in a view according to which all language is constructional cf.
Traugott proposes a hierarchical classiication of construction types: Indeed, the availability of new corpora of written and spoken language has made it possible to gain insights on the emergence of new constructions and on the role of particular factors, such as frequency, in the development of new constructions. Constructional approaches can be fruitfully applied to diachronic studies for a number of reasons. First, the fact that no neat division between semantics and prag- matics is drawn within constructional frameworks allows for accurate descriptions of the interrelations between semantic conventionalization and conversational impli- catures see also Traugottunder this respect.
Semantic maps are crucially oten built on the basis of synchronic data, but their explanation lies in the paths of semantic change through which the grams acquired or lost new functions. As argued by van der Auwerathis volume classical semantic maps, as opposed to semantic maps adopting a multi-dimensional scaling methodology see Cysoware basically hypotheses about the polysemy of constructions.
If semantic maps deal with more than one construction, they become hypotheses about synchronic variation and, as a consequence, about diachronic grad- ualness: In particular, a relatively high frequency of occurrence, observable synchronically, seems to be crucial for allowing diachronic change. Indeed, the recourse to corpora analysis appears to be a characterizing feature of the present volume.
As pointed out by Bybee Bybee ; cf. At this stage, as shown by Mauri and Giacalone Ramat In other words, in order for speakers to reinterpret the meaning of the form, it is necessary that they encounter the type of context in which such reinterpretation occurs with suicient frequency for the construction to be processed as a single unit, and for the new value to be systematically associated with that speciic context.
On the basis of the foregoing, it may be argued that the interface between syn- chrony and diachrony manifests itself both in the data, i. As argued by Dryerit is indeed crucial to keep a synchronic description of language what languages are like apart from the mainly diachronic explanation of why languages are the way they are.
What may prima facie appear to be a separation between the two dimensions is actually what allows for a real integration of synchrony and diachrony within a unitary account of language variation. At the same time, however, it is precisely in the synchronic use that speakers make of language that the linguist identiies the seeds of language change, from which new structures emerge. Overview of the contributions to the volume he volume is organized in three thematic parts, which gather together papers shar- ing a common macro-perspective on the interface between synchrony and diachrony.
Finally, the third part of the volume is more centered on the role played by gradualness in diachronic change, grouping papers discussing to what extent diachronic change manifests itself as being gradual, providing data on particular situations of gradual change such as language contact.
Such a theoretical argument is supported by a qualitative analysis of corpora to track the development of the English preposition during from the verbal participle, showing how the neoanalyses involved combine to produce what appears to be a gradual change from a lexical towards a grammatical construction.
Trousdale takes abrupt neoanalysis to be the primary mechanism through which language change takes place, arguing that even analogical thinking eventually implies a new analysis i. In his discussion, the synchrony-diachrony interface becomes visible when a detailed analysis of grammatical change and synchronic variation is undertaken, jointly addressing synchronic gradience at any stage in the development of a particu- lar language and the various steps, which may explain the change occurred and at the same time may set up further possibilities for future change in the language network.
AIV order is rare in prose but common in poetry. Principles and Parameters approaches see it as transitions from one discrete category to another, thus pointing to abruptness. Margerie Can you literally be scared sick? Within the constructional framework adopted by the author, cases of mismatch, i. Based on corpus data, he compares BE meant to to other verbs attested in the NCI nominativus cum ininitivo construction e.
BE said to, BE supposed to with a reputed sense and shows that BE meant to has come to be inter- preted as an instantiation of the hearsay NCI schema by a process of analogy.
Understanding Grammars through Diachronic Change
Disney provides a detailed discussion on the role of abstract schemas and constructions in language change, arguing that in the case under exam analogy with the NCI schema may explain what appears to be a non-gradual step in the diachronic change, if com- pared to the established conceptual space for evidentiality. Temporary complexi- ication phenomena are attested and are treated as intermediate cases of analogical levelling.Ferdinand de Saussure and Structural Linguistics
Although the data of the study are synchronic, results shed light on the way synchronic variation can constitute not only the source, but also the consequence of diachronic change. A classical semantic map is basically a hypothesis about the polysemy of con- structions. Van der Auwera argues that the synchronic variation described in a classical semantic map directly relates to diachronic gradualness: As a consequence, it also lacks the ensuing predictive power, both with respect to synchrony and diachrony, and cannot make the interface between synchrony and diachrony visible.
Adnominal constructions in Latin involve both adnominal genitives tribunus militum and attributive modiication tribunus militaris. Such encoding strategies show overlaps, gradually shiting boundaries and interpretational ambiguities that have paved the way to the gradual ousting of the adjective by the genitive.
In a broader typological perspective the increasing frequency of constructs with N ominative G enitive order and their expansion in the domain of denominal adjectives throughout the history of Latin leads to the loss of the GN order and contributes to establish the new SVO typology of the Romance languages. As to the theoretical signiicance of this contribution, it may be said that considering gradu- alness as the historical counterpart of gradience can help to shed light on the factors triggering language change.
An intermediate stage in the development of inlectional morphemes provides a description and dia- chronic analysis of the evolution of subject pronouns from subject clitics to agree- ment markers in three sets of Alpine dialects: Carinthian and Bavarian varieties in the irst part, Walser varieties in the second and the Badiot variety of Ladin in the third.
Double agreement phenomena have been oten noted as a characteristic feature of a number of Germanic and Romance varieties. Wratil claims that the motivations of this allomorphy can be traced back to language learners decisions in face of mor- phosyntactic ambiguities of the input. Double agreement efects are shown to indicate more or less persistent intermediate stages in the grammaticalization process and also distinct paths of dialectal evolution which can be tied to conlicting requirements of production and comprehension optimalization.
Moreover contact has to be taken into account as factor of change: Southern Walser German speakers, especially the younger generations, have borrowed basic word order patterns from Italian and reanalyzed subject clitics into agreement markers, but at the same time exhibit properties that still it in the traditional V2 scheme.
In a functional approach Dal Negro and Giacalone Ramat claim that the agreement suixes derived from clitic subjects have introduced a complexiication of the conju- gational system for the 3SG now showing gender distinctions.
In particular, the paper analyzes pronominal reference to inanimate controllers in informal speech and proposes interesting similarities with gender restructuring and loss in English. Both pragmatic factors, such as dis- course prominence of controllers, and syntactic factors, such as antecedents in sub- ject position, play a role in the preservation of grammatical agreement. In order to ill a gap in gender studies, Semplicini sets out to investigate double gender nouns in Dutch, i.
Results conirm the gradual loss of grammatical gender in favour of a more semantic system, but also individuate a number of features which help explain- ing the persistence of the phenomenon down the centuries. She makes three crucial points. First, the complex path of grammaticalization of tipo led to the development of new expressions for vagueness and approximation in Italian, as the qualitative analysis of corpora shows. However, the development of tipo[-N] is not the result of a linear change in which the nominal function was replaced by diferent functional categories, but it shows a process where new functions and meanings coexist with the old ones in a layering situation.
Second, the distribution of the various non-nominal uses of tipo varies in relation to textual and register dimensions, with non-nominal uses being more frequent in spoken texts, especially in dialogues.
Until abouttyp was only attested with a nominal function, and it is only recently that the other functions have developed. With the teacher refusing to comply, Barry took the matter to the dean with respect to unaugmented absolute constructions and the lack of other types of augmented absolutes such as ater-augmented absolute constructions, for instanceadopting a diachronic perspective.
In the period under examination the marking of the semantic deiniteness is almost oblig- atory, so the deinite article derived from the reanalysis of the demonstrative appears in every case when referential identiication is not encoded otherwise. Expansion in the use of the article did not happen all at once, as shown by the contrastive analysis of a parallel Gospel text of a later date. As a matter of fact, the Abstract Possession construction preferably tends to instantiate feelings pertaining to bodily functions such as hunger or sleep, and to subsequently spread to other, less prototypical domains: Studies in Language Evidentials, paths of change, and mental maps: Typologically regu- lar asymmetries.
Constructions and Language Change. Sprachtypologie und Universalien- forschung 49 1: Pragmatic Markers in English. Grammaticalization and Discourse Functions. From usage to grammar: Syntactic heory in Typological Perspective. Typology and Universals, 2nd edn.
In New challenges in Typology: Category change in English with and without structural change.