"Comment l'oiseau meurt-il ?"
Translation:How does the bird die?
@Lama. Indeed it does but that just happens to be the way the romantic languages are constructed and somewhat de-constructed in English. Therefore we must begin to not only understand them and their differences but if possible to "think" in the language we're learning. It don't come easy. Like little children learn a language, probably the best we can do at the early stages is to forget about understanding it all right now but just to "grasp" enough to move on to a place where, eventually, we will indeed begin to understand. I don't "get" it either but I have learned it enough to answer most tasks correctly. We'll get both "it" and "there" ultimately. The French language, usually, requires articles plastering the walls all over the place. Articles and exceptions is what the French language does so well. Turned out nice again hasn't it? :) JJ.
Isn't there an inversion in Ramoep's phrase though? The original phrase would be "L'oiseau meurt" (the bird dies). Asking the question using inversion would give "Comment meurt-l'oiseau". Would this phrasing be acceptable?
I'm confused as to why there needs to be an extra pronoun (il) added at the end.
The hyphen is required only with pronouns: comment l'oiseau meurt-il ?
The sentence "comment meurt l'oiseau ?" is not formally interrogative since it is the form of a subordinate clause: "je veux savoir comment l'oiseau meurt" or "je veux savoir comment meurt l'oiseau" (I want to know how the bird dies)
Purely from the sound, I think the sentence could equally be translated in the plural, "Comment l'oiseaux meurent-ils?" but maybe that's because my ear isn't finely tuned enough to hear the difference. In the sense of the plural, would it have been "Comment les oiseaux..."?
I answered this with, "The bird, how does he die?", and I got it wrong...I assume because duoLingo hadn't written it as, "L'oiseau, comment meurt-il ?" ? I'm also confused as to how "Comment meurt l'oiseau ?" and "Comment l'oiseau meurt ?" are both right when French uses SVO sentence structure. I would think the latter should be the only correct one, but maybe it changes when the sentence is interrogative?
Interrogative forms often come in 2 or 3 versions, depending on the degree of formality you have to use (in writing vs in conversations)
formal: comment l'oiseau meurt-il ?
in speech: l'oiseau meurt comment ?
relaxed: comment l'oiseau meurt ? Note on this one that it can also be a kind of 'fake' question, to have your counterpart repeat his/her question or a kind of exclamation of surprise or disbelief.
Thank you! Just to clarify, when is it okay to write, "Comment meurt l'oiseau ?" ? Or more precisely, when is it okay to change the order of the sentence structure from Subject-Verb-Object to something different? I thought it was acceptable only in Inversion, but that is not the case in the above sentence...
I had forgotten that one...
"comment meurt l'oiseau ?" is the standard formula, when the question starts with an interrogative adverb and does not use a pronoun:
où sont mes clés ? (où sont-elles ?)
quand part le train ? (quand part-il ?)
que fait ton père ? (que fait-il ?)
comment s'appelle ton ami ? (comment s'appelle-t-il ?)
Someone made a great point elsewhere (I think in an even less conversationally useful sentence in the Spanish section of Duolingo about a duck eating some kind of meat) that these nonsensical sentences are salient and therefore they're more memorable. There have been neuropsychological experiments (I can post links to them and/or explain in much more detail if anyone is interested - this is a super-simplified explanation) showing that we have a certain type of brain signal (N400) that is larger when words or phrases come up in unexpected contexts. The larger this signal is upon initial presentation, the more likely we are to remember the corresponding word in a later memory test.
Another point I could make is that if we can correctly translate things regardless of whether they make sense (even better, DESPITE the fact that they may NOT make sense), we will have a much easier time of doing the same in more realistic scenarios.
This is a question asking for information, and starting with an interrogative word: "comment" (could have been "où" or "pourquoi", the grammar would be the same).
The formal interrogative format requires an inversion Verb-Subject. Since you have a real subject "oiseau", you need to repeat it with its matching pronoun "il":
- comment l'oiseau meurt-il ?
Mostly in conversations, where the register of speech can be more relaxed, you can also use simpler constructions:
- comment meurt l'oiseau ?
- comment l'oiseau meurt ?
- l'oiseau meurt comment ?