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"Sie kosten mal ein kleines Stück."

Translation:You taste a little piece.

February 1, 2013

24 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Soglio

What happened to "mal"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/marziotta

I translated "Sie kosten mal ein kleines Stück." as "They try to taste a small piece" to put the "mal" in, but the system doesn't recognise it.

I think "mal" is one of those not directly translatable words that give emphasis and similar.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Germandy

Yes, Marziotta is right, "mal" is often ommitted in the translation because it is not exactly necessary. In this sentence it could mean that they are tasting a little piece simply because its offered to them -why not?- or because they have time or it can't do any harm to try. I wanna say it makes the action a bit more casual.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

You inserted the word “simply”, which captures the meaning of the ‘mal’ rather nicely.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Soglio

Thank you. Yes, I see what you mean.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Soglio

Perhaps "You taste just a little piece"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Germandy

mhh not sure about that one. "just" can also be interpreted as "only", "nur", which changes the meaning of the sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

Yes, I think “just” is a good translation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JonGudmundson

I thought so, too. Alas, Duo did not agree with us. :(


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dmi_go

I know that feeling. Take a lingot.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

Another interpretation is that ‘mal’ is used here in the common sense of ‘einmal’ to distinguish the actual present from the habitual present and narrative present, which do not have distinct verb forms in German.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/philster043

How do you determine when kosten means "cost" or "taste?" "Cost" sounds more in-context here IMO.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

Um, good question. On second thought, you're quite right. In the sense of “cost”, ‘kosten’ can of course be transitive, as in ‘Das kostet einen Euro.’ = “That costs one euro.”. In fact, ‘kosten’ is one of a handful of German verbs that can be ditransitive with two direct objects in the accusative case, as in ‘Das kostet dich einen Euro.’ = “That costs you one euro.”.

So ‘Sie kosten mal ein kleines Stück.’ could mean either “{You|They}'re simply tasting a little piece.”, or “They're costing a pretty penny.”


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/philster043

Danke. And I have to admit that upon encountering this sentence again, I did unconsciously translate it as "try"/"taste" so I guess I would have to disagree with my past self now. :P

Repetition does that, I guess. I had seen the word "kosten" with the "taste" meaning again a few times since then...

Still, it's nice to know I wasn't wrong, either.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdrianJosh

Kosten means to try something ( but only for things you eat! ) a word that would apply for more than a food would be ''probieren''

Then you could say ''Probier mal ein kleines Stück.''

or for clothes ''Probier es mal an.'' or ''Du kannst es mal anprobieren.''

''mal'' is like a short word for ''einmal'' which means = one time

its like telling someone in a polite way that he/she could at least try it for one time and if they dont like it as they dont need to do it again.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mark621788

Adrian's reply, in an Occam Razor sense, seems the most straight forward to me. But I must say the threads in this blog have been very insightful about subtilties in the language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/philster043

Today I translated this as "They are trying a little piece once," because I thought "once" is what "mal" would have meant. It was accepted, but now I wonder...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hutcho66

'mal' is one of those cool (or annoying, up to you!) little German words that just gets slipped into sentences for emphasis. In this sentence, it emphasises that 'They taste a little piece' just this once. 'Sie kosten ein kleines Stück' also means 'They taste a little piece', but it doesn't have that extra bit of emphasis.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

That's also a correct translation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chithewanderer

The english translation doesn't sound natural. I find myself asking "a piece of what?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Soglio

Well, in context you'd have that. "Would you like a piece of cake?" "No, I couldn't possibly." "OK, so you taste just a little piece."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

You inserted the word “just”, which captures the meaning of ‘mal’ quite nicely.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JonGudmundson

But The Owl did not accept my translation "They are tasting just a little piece."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

Sorry, I misread the placement of the qualifier “just” in your translation as “You just taste a little piece.”, which is a good translation, modifying the whole verb phrase. But in “They are tasting just a little piece.”, it modifies only the object, which is an incorrect translation.

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