"The girl is playing."

Translation:Das Mädchen spielt.

February 6, 2013

4 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Gecast
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Why is "Das Mädchen" when it is a femenine noun (at least, in english and spanish)?

February 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Katherle
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I think it helps to distinguish between biological sex and grammatical gender. In German, the biological sex of people and the grammatical gender of the corresponding nouns generally coincide, e.g. a man is male and the noun "der Mann" is also grammatically masculine.

There are some exceptions, though, and one of them is "das Mädchen". Of course a girl is biologically female, but the noun "das Mädchen" is grammatically neuter. The reason for this is that all nouns ending in the suffix "-chen" are automatically assigned the neuter gender.

Etymologically, the word "das Mädchen" developed from "die Magd", which at one time meant "unmarried woman, virgin", and the suffix "-chen", which means "little". So originally, the word for girl meant "little unmarried woman". To make it easier to pronounce, "das Mägdchen" finally became "das Mädchen".

February 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Katherle
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Here is what Mark Twain had to say on the subject, by the way :)

"In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl. See how it looks in print - I translate this from a conversation in one of the best of the German Sunday-school books:

"Gretchen. Wilhelm, where is the turnip?

Wilhelm. She has gone to the kitchen.

Gretchen. Where is the accomplished and beautiful English maiden?

Wilhelm. It has gone to the opera."

http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/awfgrmlg.html

February 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/LukeTimS

Thanks to all

March 14, 2017
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