what is the meaning of "if words have any meaning" in this context?

In some ways Kane's position is hopelessly illogical. He was on most intimate and affectionate terms with the mother and the two girls, although if words have any meaning he thought them to be swindlers living on the credulity of the public. "Kiss Katie for me," he says, and he continually sends love to the mother. Already, young as they were, he had a glimpse of the alcoholic danger to which they were exposed by late hours and promiscuous company. "Tell Katie to drink no champagne, and do you follow the same advice," said he. It was sound counsel, and it would have been well for themselves and for the movement if they had both followed it; but again we must remember their inexperienced youth and the constant temptations.

from http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0301051h.html

  • Have you looked up sound (adj) and counsel (n) in a dictionary? What does it say?
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 15:23
  • Also - we don't use "do" support for questions with the word be. Is "sound" an adjective, not does "sound" is an adjective.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 15:25
  • @Colin Fine sound (adj) counsel (n) means sane or reasonable advice? is it correct for this passage?
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 15:30
  • 1
    I've rolled back the edits. You can edit to make a question clearer. Please don't edit to ask a new question. If you want to ask about "sound counsel", please first check in a dictionary, then if you still need help, post a new question.
    – James K
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 15:31
  • @James K ok dear james k. thanks
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


A prior sentence says "In these letters Kane continually reproaches Margaret with living in deceit and hypocrisy." Kane had expressed these thoughts in words.

If the thoughts he had expressed in his letters were taken seriously, he thought they were swindlers. So, if [his] words had any meaning, then why did he remain "on most intimate and affectionate terms" with them?

  • i am partially agree with you. the author says his position is hopelessly illogical because he was in intimate and close relationship with them and he used kind words in his letters but with any purpose, he thought that they deceive people.
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 14:56
  • He doesn't use kind words in his letters; "he reproaches Margaret". It is those words whose meaning is belied by his continuing intimacy. Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 15:46
  • you are right dear jack but it is ambiguous for me.was kane uncertain about his actions? on one side he reproaches them, on the other side he has a close and affectionate relationship with them. can you clarify please?
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 15:53
  • Solesoul, that is the point of the passage: to underline the inconsistency between Kane's words and his actions. Was he being hypocritical? Did he himself have hidden motivations? Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 15:56
  • omg. now i can understand it clearly.
    – solesoul
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 15:57

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