"מה קופים אוכלים?"
Translation:What do monkeys eat?
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Can you break down the phrase "קופי אדם" for me? Is it monkey+red or monkey+human? If it's the latter, what does it mean when you put two nouns together?
I see from the Wikipedia articles that a קופי אדם is not a קופי. Is it unusual or typical for a Hebrew two word phrase to have that property?
You are correct. It's not. (Neither of the questions, where you responded and questioned if it was "correct English" were correct English). It would be: what kind (or "what type") of monkey (or monkeys) eats that? What monkey eat/s that? (For example, if you were to say: I have monkey food here, it's cotton candy!... What kind of monkey eats that?)
I translated this using the same order that Israelis here in Boston frequently use. מה אוכלים קופים? I'm aware that the many errors one will hear in "Street Hebrew" parallels the broken English grammar one experiences in "Street English" - but i don't believe my sentence is wrong. Nevertheless if I AM wrong, I want to know about it & specifically how is it wrong since i hear this "inverted order" a LOT ... & these are well-educated professionals. I absolutely LOVE Duolingo! Hands down this is the best app out there, IMHO! (I'm using Duo to supplement my on-going formal classes & informal ulpan conversation group.) תודה רבה לכולם!
TL;DR I think מה אוכלים קופים is correct and should be accepted.
Details: it's an excellent question! Generally, the inverted order (מה רוצים האנשים) is indeed fine, and actually slightly higher register than than מה האנשים רוצים; I'd expect it more in writing than in speaking.
However, with מה אוכלים קופים the problem is ambiguity between the monkeys eating and being eaten! It throws me off guard for a second: I instinctively think this is asking "what (things, creatres) eat monkeys?" To be sure, this is not a natural English sentence; similarly מה אוכלים קופים is unnatural if you want to ask about people / animals / monsters that eat monkeys. And after a moment confusion it becomes clear that the Hebrew question is about food which monkeys eat. It does sound correct for this sense; but if you want to avoid puzzling your listeners or readers, beware of the inverted order if semantically the noun could be both the subject and the object of the verb.