Does Familien stray from the norm in pronunciation? I was under the impression that ie was simply pronounced like the English "ee." This is pronouncing it as two separate letters/syllables or "ee-ehn." Is this an exception to the rule, was I mistaken in the idea in the first place, or is this pronunciation incorrect?
In some dialects it is pronounced as "ee". Standard German pronounces both vowels separately though.
Also, context. Sometimes they'll just call their pet ein Tier, but so long as your paying even a tiny amount of attention it is pretty obvious what they mean.
In English the word order is rather fixed. subject - predicate - object. In your sentence it is the families who like the animals.
I find this sentence confusing, because of the flexible word order in German. I think that this sentence could be translated both as "the animals like families" and "families like the animals". Pls correct me of I am wrong.
As such the sentences can mean both. But when you speak, there is intonation and context.
The animals like families = Die Tiere moegen Familien Families like the animals = Familien moegen die Tiere
In German word order matters. More than English, to be honest. Betwixt our two languages, English is the more fluid in word order. American English in particular.
The word order certainly matters in both languages but in English it is more fixed.
You know, I just realized you're right. I just thought up a boat load of places where one can say the same thing like three different ways in German where English is pretty rigid. I know the same is also the case going in the reverse direction, but it's pretty hard for me to really identify a lot of German fluidity since I am not a native speaker. I guess I stand corrected.