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    #1

    What's that mean?

    I often hear people asking "What's that mean?"

    Is this question grammatically correct?

    Here are the three statements based on my guess:

    1. This has been used by native speakers, and here --'s -- is short for 'does'; (However, it sounds weird to me that 'does' is used as short as --'s --)

    2. This was "invented" by ESLs and eventually adopted by native speakers;

    3. This was only used by ESLs who don't have good sense of grammar, and when you hear native speakers saying that, they're teasing.

    Which statement is right? Or all are wrong?

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    #2

    Re: What's that mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by BonaVista View Post
    I often hear people asking "What's that mean?"

    Is this question grammatically correct? It's not correct.
    "What's" is not a correct form of 'What does", and and I don't believe you will see that in careful written English. But you certainly will hear it spoken.

    Here are the three statements based on my guess:

    1. This has been used by native speakers, and here --'s -- is short for 'does'; (However, it sounds weird to me that 'does' is used as short as --'s --) Native speakers do say that, and I would guess that native speakers invented it. It's just nonstandard oral English.

    2. This was "invented" by ESLs and eventually adopted by native speakers;

    3. This was only used by ESLs who don't have good sense of grammar, and when you hear native speakers saying that, they're teasing. They are not teasing; they are just using the English I described above.

    Which statement is right? Or all are wrong?
    2006


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    #3

    Re: What's that mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by BonaVista View Post
    I often hear people asking "What's that mean?"

    Is this question grammatically correct?

    Here are the three statements based on my guess:

    1. This has been used by native speakers, and here --'s -- is short for 'does'; (However, it sounds weird to me that 'does' is used as short as --'s --)

    2. This was "invented" by ESLs and eventually adopted by native speakers;

    3. This was only used by ESLs who don't have good sense of grammar, and when you hear native speakers saying that, they're teasing.

    Which statement is right? Or all are wrong?
    I suspect that the phrase is a shortened form of
    "What is that supposed to mean?"

    The expression, "What's that supposed to mean?" is used all the time, partly interchangeable with "What's that mean?"

    This violent condensing is supported, I presume, by the existence of "What does that mean?" as a common phrase -- as well as the tendency for "supposed to" to drop out of the sentence in the first place. It's pronounced "What's that spowsta mean?" (at least in casual speech.)

    So the expression is "What's that (spowsta) mean?"

    I think saying "What's that mean?" is far too common -- and far too widely distributed among all kinds of speakers -- to be considered incorrect. I think its use is merely "casual," rather than "wrong."

    "What's that spowsta mean?" is confrontational and challenging.
    "What's that mean?" CAN be a challenge, but it can also be a neutral request for information.
    Last edited by Ann1977; 17-Sep-2009 at 00:42.

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