I found this answer in a thread on the German Stackexchange site where a similar question was asked, and this answer, given by Steffen in 2015 summed up everything I've been reading on the subject. I am a native German, raised early in the States so missed most of that childhood teaching, and with everyone being so touchy regarding their political correctness in today's society, it's difficult to keep up with what those still living there consider to be polite and acceptable.
So, here's his answer (along with his grammatical mistakes) that pretty-much hits all the terms and how they could be received and why:
"Mädchen will usually emphasise the young age (<18) of the person. It may also be used expressing fondness. It is also used in the context of fashion models. (cf. girl) EDIT ME: I also read that its usage can and will change depending on the familiarity you have with the person; the more familiar you are, the more fond you are, the more loose you will be with its usage since you know how far your subject will allow you to push it.
"Fräulein is deprecated (SIC). It was used for unmarried women, which means you are inferring a marital status, which might be offending (SIC). It was also used for waitresses, stewardesses, receptionists etc, implying they were not married. It sounds almost despective (SIC) nowadays. (cf. Miss)
"Dame is a formal way to refer to somebody. It is very respectful and in my opinion the word of choice in public space when referring to and/or talking to somebody you don’t know. 'Meine Dame' can be used to address somebody but it sounds a little old-fashioned. Addressing a group of people, e.g. in a speech or letter, it is commonly used in the phrase 'Meine Damen und Herren.' resp. 'Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren.' (cf. lady, Madame)
"Frau is a neutral way of referring to an adult or close-to-adult woman (>16--14, depending on the context). It is also used to address somebody formally appending the last name (cf. woman, Ms)."
So there ya have it. So much of the etiology and etymology of it has changed over the last four-hundred years, along with its accepted use due to the issue of political correctness that, unless you're a native-speaker living within the country, your chances of offending someone are pretty high. Just do your research super-well about your specific situation before opening your mouth and you should be fine. :)
Should I not use the microphone if it isn't reliable? Sometimes I say the sentence correctly or at least similar and it doesn't accept it and sometimes I will say something random like "I give up" and it will accept it Does anyone else have this problem what did you do?
I know... level 22... but I still haven't had someone (perhaps a native speaker) tell me why a noun that should clearly be feminine is considered neuter? A girl is a feminine thing, but Die is not its definite article. I have yet to confront the indefinite but is it properly eine Mädchen or Ein Mädchen (the neuter indefinite)... just trying to see if there is any consistency here. I've already long since finished the tree; but I am re-running every skill to better know the language and it has been a great help in rooting me better in the language.
That is so, becouse das Mädchen is not the basic form of this noun. Suffix -chen, or -lein are used to make something smaller, or cute (der Tisch - a table, but das Tischlein - small, or cute table) and it always is das. Same thing is with das MädCHEN. Basic form is probably die Madel what for now means something like a girl that helps in house, but it is not used actually
Thanks! In studying Dutch I'd learned about the "diminutive" like using "sje" in the word "Meisje" (sounds somewhat like the German Mädchen and it, too simply makes things, "small" or "cute"... One of my favorite "Lieder" is Schubert's "Heidenröslein"..which I now realize is a pretty "little rose" out on the heath! Danke!
But "das" says that they don't no if it is a man or a women
That is not correct.
das is the neuter definite article; neuter nouns are neither masculine or feminine, but not "we don't know whether they are masculine or feminine" -- it's just a third grammatical gender.
And Mädchen happens to be a neuter noun.