There was no suitable "Report" button for this:
The more natural English question would be: **Surely he doesn't (does not) live in Rome?
The answer given is more of a statement, since English rarely fails to invert word order for questions. If I heard this said, even with a rising inflection at the end, I would hear incredulity in a statement, not a question.
"The more natural English question would be: **Surely he doesn't (does not) live in Rome?"
The idea of what sounds more natural is very subjective. The given sentence sounds the most natural to me (and to whichever contributor wrote it).
In English, we do not have to invert the word order to make something a question. Questions left in the same word order as a statement become questions of disbelief.
I've spoken with people from various different English-speaking countries and read a lot of books, and I've never heard anyone say "He surely does not". Yeah, it's perfectly valid English, but to a native speaker it just sounds awkward and unnatural. When I've used (and heard people use) the word "surely", it's always as the first or last word in the sentence, emphasising disbelief.
That is not the problem. It is not an english course. The problem is that the answer: "Surely he does not....." is not accepted although it is at least as good as the preferred answer. I reported it. It is a new, Beta version course, and of course it still has many flaws.
It feels more natural, to me at least, to put "surely" at the start of a sentence especially in this instance.
I've been on Duolingo intermittently since 2013 and if I had a penny for every time someone said a valid British English construction was bad English...well I'd have enough money to create my own Duo (ad free)!
The given answer is acceptable, but a greater variety of acceptable answers should be added. I, personally, would say "He doesn't live in Rome, does he?"
This doesn't express anything close to the disbelief of the English sentence, which is indeed a rhetorical question - in effect, a statement. "Num..." is a perfectly normal way to ask whether he lives in Rome or not - implying you didn't know he lives there or didn't even consider whether he does. This is the only element of surprise involved. The facile and reductive grammar-book generalisations of the type "expects a negative answer" are good for facile and reductive grammar books, but shouldn't be interpreted so categorically without consulting actual usage. The correct translation of this sentence with no further context is "Does he live in Rome?", the element of surprise, if any, being conveyed through final high rise-falling intonation in English.
You're right. In German we would use "etwa" which carries the surprise well.
I'd say that 'Doesn't he live in Rome?' fits better, as a question rather than a statement.