Listen to English - What does it mean Watson?


We use the word "mean" in English in lots of different ways. I imagine that you use the word very often. You ask your English teacher what a particular English word means. You say for example, "What does 'tree' mean?" You are saying, what is the word for "tree" in my language? How can I translate the English word "tree"?

But we can use "mean" in other ways too. For example, you remember that Joanne's mother really does not like Kevin, and she is unpleasant to him every time they meet. But last time they met, she was quite nice. She asked about his football team, and where he and Joanne were going on holiday. What can it mean? Why was she so nice? What is the explanation?

Another example. I go to my bank website to check how much money is in my account. I see that there are two tranactions which I do not remember. What can this mean? Has someone stolen my debit card? Has the bank made a mistake? Or have I simply forgotten what I spent the money on? What is the explanation?

And another example, with a slightly different meaning. Kevin goes to a party at his friend George's house. He stays until about 1am. This means that he has missed the last bus home. It means that he will need to walk home or get a taxi. In other words, the result of staying late at the party is that Kevin has missed the bus and will have to walk home.

In the early 20th century, the English writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote books and short stories about a detective called Sherlock Holmes. You have probably heard of him, since the Sherlock Holmes stories have been translated into many different languages. Sherlock Holmes had a companion, Dr Watson, who worked with him on many of his cases.

Here is a Sherlock Holmes joke that I found in the newspaper last week.

In one of their adventures, Holmes and Watson needed to travel to a remote place. There was no house where they could stay, so they took a tent with them. As evening fell, they pitched the tent, and after they had eaten their supper they went to sleep in the tent for the night.

In the middle of the night, Holmes woke Watson and said, "Look up, Watson. What can you see?"

And Watson woke up, and looked. "I see the stars," he said. "There are thousands and thousands of them."

"And what does it all mean, Watson?" said Holmes. "What does it mean?"

And Watson replied, "Well, if there are millions of stars and even a few of those stars have planets, it is quite likely that there are other planets like earth in the universe. And if there are a few planets like earth in the universe, there might also be lifeliving things like us."

"You fool Watson," replied Holmes. "It means that someone has stolen our tent!"