Synchronic analysis

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In linguistics, a synchronic analysis is one that views linguistic phenomena only at a given time, usually the present, though a synchronic analysis of a historical language form is also possible. This may be distinguished from diachronic, which regards a phenomenon in terms of developments through time. Diachronic analysis is the main concern of historical linguistics; most other branches of linguistics are concerned with some form of synchronic analysis.

Synchronic and diachronic approaches can reach quite different conclusions. For example, a Germanic strong verb like English sing - sang - sung is irregular when viewed synchronically: the native speaker's brain processes these as learned forms, whereas the derived forms of regular verbs are processed quite differently, by the application of productive rules (for example, adding -ed to the basic form of a verb as in walk - walked). This is an insight of psycholinguistics, relevant also for language didactics, both of which are synchronic disciplines. However a diachronic analysis will show that the strong verb is the remnant of a fully regular system of internal vowel changes; historical linguistics seldom uses the category "irregular verb".

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