Synchronic and the diachronic:-
Saussure in his book Course de Lingistique Generalle has made a great contribution in making a distinction between the two approaches of linguistics i.e. the synchronic and the diachronic approaches. The synchronic or the descriptive study of language is concerned with the language as it exists at a particular moment of time of a language used by a particular community of people. Thus if we make a study of French at the time of 1730s or English at the time of Chaucer it would be the synchronic study of language. As opposed to this the diachronic or the historical study of language is concerned with the historical development of language through time. A study of history of English language is thus diachronic.
For example the way in which French and Italian here evolved from Latin investigates the language change. Saussure says: ‘the synchronic linguistics will be concerned with the logical and psychological relation that binds the co-existing terms and form a system of collective mind of speaker. Diachronic linguistics on the contrary will study relation that binds together the successive terms not perceived by the collective mind but substituted for each other without forming a system.’ Thus the synchronic perspective deals with the system and the diachronic with unit. Saussure always has tried to distinguish these two perspectives because they are the facts of different order with different conditions of existence.
Between the two perspectives Saussure has prioritizes the synchronic because of the sense that diachronic identity depends upon a series of synchronic identities. So from this point of view in linguistic system the significant facts are the synchronic ones. Diachronic events throw up a new form which then becomes the part of a new system.
The distinction between the two approaches helps the modern linguistics to arrive at a clear perspective and steer clear the danger of mixing up the two approaches. Saussure,...