I do think using 'the' is irrelevant here - I'd be just as likely to say "give me Borscht please" when ordering in English Actually I'd say "I'll have borscht please." but for the purpose of the exercise both answers - with or without 'the' - should be accepted.
1) Give me the borshch means give me that specific borshch. There could be many kinds of borshch there, or "the borshch" could refer to "the borshch you cooked".
2) This sentence is not necessarily an order at a restaurat. Actually, it's not. I wouldn't tell a waiter "дайте...", I would say "я би хотіла..." -> I would like. This sounds like someone talking to their family or friends.
I'm a native American English speaker. Even for me, it is hard to definitively say when the "zero article" can be used. For Borsht, I believe this falls under a mass noun. Quoting from https://www.thoughtco.com/zero-article-grammar-1692619, "Mass nouns are those that cannot be counted, such as air or sadness. They also include nouns that are not usually counted but that can be counted in some situations, such as water or meat.". It is common to say "I'll have soup", "I'm making soup" or "I'm making a pot of soup". We would not say "I'll have Borsht", but that is only because we don't have Borsht as an option.
Also worth noting, in the earlier exercises Duolingo uses "I like Borsht".
Somehow "I'm making soup" and "I'll have soup" sound OK to me, but "He gave me soup" or "Please, give me soup" sound weird... The first two sound like they describe some general concepts, e.g. "making soup" is an activity, "I'll have soup" sounds like you're ordering from a menu and "soup" is like the name of an item. But "He gave me soup" sounds too literal and specific (to me) to have it without "some" or "the"... I'm confused :')
Those sentences sound perfectly fine to me. Does “he gave me advice” or “please give me money” sound strange to you?
Don't compare "borshch" to concepts like "advice" and "money". That doesn't make any sense. Your comparison to "soup" was a good example. However, you said "He gave me soup" or "I found soup in the fridge" sounds OK to you, and I still feel that it sounds strange and should be "He gave me some soup" and "I found some soup"...
I do know you're a native speaker and I'm not. This is not about you convincing me :D It's about the number of people who comment about it :) One person is not enough of a statistics.
But I think now there have been enough native speakers saying it's OK and I'll add it x)
Duo uses different spelling for борщ in different questions: borscht abd borshch
In this exercise borshch/borscht/borsch are all accepted (16.08.2017). I will check whether in other exercises all of these are accepted as well, to avoid confusion. Thanks!
In the early exercises 4 versions appear: borshch/borsch/borscht/borsht
However, in the later ones "borscht" disappears. I wonder whether I should add it there, or remove it from the early ones :) I don't know what the idea is: maybe "borscht" is not common and it's been decided to remove it...
In Brazilian Ukrainian communities and in other places, the most common spelling of борщ was borscht, at least.
Since I wrote this comment I decided to boss around, went through all the exercises about борщ and added more variations :)
Right now "borsch/borshch/borsht/bortsch/borscht/borsht" are the acceptable ones.
I think please give me borscht should also be accepted, and have reported it.
You need to say either "the borscht" or "some borscht", "give me borscht" doesn't work.
“Give me borscht” sounds fine to me (native English speaker), just like one could say “give me the soup,” “give me some soup,” or simply “give me soup.” All are correct.
Oh, OK, thanks! I thought "Give me soup, please" sounds weird and unnatural :)
In this instance you shouldn't refer to borshch with a definite article. It doesn't sound correct.
Update: right now we have a/the/some borshch and without any article as well.
Duolingo should accept "Give me the borscht, please." I've reported it.
Interesting. It is currently accepted. Maybe something was misspelled?
It's not accepted because the idea that we had before was, there needs to be something before "borshch" e.g. "the borshch" or "some borshch". However, there was a comment above saying no article is needed and "Give me borshch" is correct as well. However, to me it still sounds weird like "Give me soup" or "Give me potatoes" - just sounds off.
I'm not a native speaker though. So I would like if more native speakers comment on this first. I'll also try to find some source online explaining it, just couldn't find anything yet :D
I'm Australian; 'give me soup please' or 'I'll have potatoes' without needing to say 'I'll have the ice-cream' or 'give me some bread' sound perfectly fine to me and would be heard every day here.