Is there a difference between 'A wolf eats a chicken' and 'A wolf is a chicken' when you say them?
Ein Wolf isst ein Hahnchen sounds the same to me as Ein Wolf ist ein Hahnchen - how do I tell whether the wolf is having lunch, or is running away scared? It might make a vital difference in a survival situation...
From what I've heard, Germans usually don't put a lot of emphasis on the 't' in 'ist' and make it sound more like just 'iss', with 'isst' they put more of an emphasis on the 't'.
Just the context and the way it is said.
"Let's eat grandma!" or "Let's eat, grandma!"
So dragging out the "isst" will make it more obvious the word is eat but otherwise it doesn't matter!
Or, as the case may be, "Let's is grandma!" when translated from speaking German. :P
When you listen to people say these sentences, it's usually pretty easy to tell which is which, due to the amount of stress and where it's placed.
"Ein Wolf isst ein Hähnchen" has relatively equal stress on "isst", "Wolf", and "Hähn". "Ein Wolf ist ein Hähnchen" has relatively equal stress on "Wolf" and "Hähn", with almost no stress on "ist".
As a previous poster commented, many Germans also leave off the "t" of "ist" completely when speaking, and in rapid conversation it may even end up sounding like "n Wolf's n Hähnchen."
JunxLeRai: "n Wolf's n Hähnchen." ;-)) Yup
OvisMaximus: "In german, there is no saying "ist ein Hühnchen" with a meaning of is scared and runs away."
That would be "Der Wolf ist ein Frosch."
In german, there is no saying "ist ein Hühnchen" with a meaning of is scared and runs away. The right context is in this case very obvius: lunchtime.
In German you do not use "isst" in connection with an animal, the correct word is "frisst".
The difference is determined by the context when listening to the sentence, the same as in English.
Shouldn't the "i" in "ist" sound longer than the "i" in "isst?" Or do the 1996 (?) reforms not apply in this case? Or do we not go along with those reforms? (also a possibility, I understand)
"ist" and "isst" are pronounced exactly the same. The spelling reform only affected "ß" and "ss", not "s". "ist" has always been spelt "ist". The letter "s" doesn't tell you anything about the length of the preceding vowel.
Also see my comment here: http://www.duolingo.com/!/comment/104456
But I thought that one of the changes in the reform was to make the pronunciation of vowels before single or double consonants consistent, i.e. long vowels before single consonants, and short vowels before double consonants. And "ß," for this purpose is considered a single consonant that is pronounced like a double s but always preceded by a long vowel, while "ss" is considered a double consonant always preceded by a short vowel. Is that right? Not certain though. I am not a native speaker, and could very well be imagining the differences in sounds from my understanding of the rules.
-edit: Sorry! Forgot that the thread was about "isst" and "ist" and has nothing whatsoever to do with "ß." In any case, thought that the vowel differences from the reform with regard to "ß" vs "ss" would also apply in "s" vs "ss."
Yeah, I'm pretty sure the sentence would simply be contextual. That happens in French, too; and any language for that matter. I'm sure if you said it people would know what you meant by it.
pronunciation is basically the same, when you write you have to pay attention wheather to use double 's' or not.