Of course, an interest in meaning goes back much further in time than the period of modern linguistics. Some of the earliest recorded speculation about language concerned meaning: for instance, the ‘nature’ or ‘convention’ dispute among the Greeks—was there, they asked, something which made the word ‘cow’ the natural one to apply to that animal over there, or was it simply a matter of convention? And there has long been an interest in meaning among students of literature, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, and so on—as is only to be expected, since the main function of language is to convey some sort of meaning, whether we define this in a narrow way, or in a broader one, including connotation, emotion, and so on.
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