Translation:You will get white rice unless you touch something.
It makes sense to me. Maybe the kid being spoken to (I assume it's a kid) likes white rice, and maybe they're in a museum where they're not allowed to touch anything. So, if the kid disobeys and touches something, they'll be punished by not being allowed to have white rice.
So basically it's a parent saying to their kid: "At this museum, you can't touch anything. We'll be having white rice for dinner tonight - your favourite - unless you touch something. Then you won't get any white rice." Or, more succinctly... "You will get white rice unless you touch something." ;)
It's strange in English, in which this type of expression is often with the negative, "You won't get ricee unless you don't touch something....." Edit: OK, the double negative is not common and is confusing. Normal for me would be: "You won't get your allowance unless you make your bed." Upon reflection, the sentence here in the exercise seems like a threat, but is weird simply because the "white rice" portion is not a common basis for threat: You'll get white rice (and not healthy brown rice) unless you touch the science experiment."
You have a double negative in the second part of yours so that the kid will have to touch something to get the rice - not the same thing at all. To use the negative, we'd say "You won't get rice if you touch something." but they are using "unless" so the first half is positive. "You'll get rice unless you touch something." which is the same as "You'll get rice if you do not touch something." "unless" is a negative condition.
Look up conditional statements in English. If the condition is met, this is going to happen or will happen. It could be happening now, but then the condition would have been met in the past. Obviously, conditional statements are handled differently in other languages.
I'd like to hear from one of the Dutch speakers: is this a sentence you'd be likely to hear in Dutch, in terms of its subject matter? Or is there an idiom/usage thing we are missing that doesn't translate well? Is it supposed to be silly and unexpected to keep us guessing, or do Dutch people think white rice is a particular treat?
Parents end up saying all sorts of things to their children that they never thought they'd say, so I wouldn't be surprised if a harassed mother said this to her gaggle of children who were being unnecessarily boisterous at a museum (as has been suggested in the above comments). For instance, the mother is very health-conscious, and usually serves brown rice, but she's feeling worn down at the moment, and ready to use any incentive to get her children to settle down. She really doesn't want to have to use the promise of a sugary treat, so luckily her hungry children supply her with leverage. CHILD 1: (bouncing) "Mommy, mommy, what's for lunch?" CHILD 2: "Rice, Mommy, white rice!" CHILD 3: "Yeah, no brown rice this time, pleeeeeease; we've had it fifty-seven times this week." MOTHER: "You will get white rice, (Child 1 bounces again, almost hitting priceless work of art) UNLESS you touch something." The children abruptly quieten down, and trail subduedly after her--at least for a couple of minutes.
This would make perfect sense in this situation. But since it required elaborate imagination, I'm not sure I'm understanding the Dutch correctly. Is that the sort of thing it's saying?
Don't over think it, replace the white rice in the sentence with ice cream, biscuits, candy, lasagne, sushi, money, tea, or anything else that makes sense to you. Duolingo is not to teach you set sentences from a language, but to help you understand the basics of a language.
That's a fair point, but it would be better if the sentences made more sense - learning time is wasted trying to work out if that is really what the example says, or whether there's some way of translating it which makes more sense.
When we speak a language, the context helps us understand the meaning (even in our native language), so if there's a sentence where we can't imagine it ever being used in any context, that just makes it more difficult to understand.
Precisely. I understand that some of the sentences are playful to make sure we're paying attention, but if they're too off-the-wall, it can make it hard to tell if one is understanding it correctly, particularly with an abstract word like "tenzij" whose job is to link ideas to show their relationship--if they suggest a different relationship, it's a poor example. That kind of playfulness works better with concrete words, like "purple cows".
I wouldn't personally give a non-English acquaintance this sentence as an example for how to use the English terms in it. Now, I have seen native speakers of one language use this sort of a sentence with a language learner, but it's done to confuse the newbie and make themselves feel superior. It embarrasses the non-native speaker who's already having a hard enough time, and hinders their learning. There's luckily not the same social cost on DuoLingo, but it's still of limited usefulness in helping us learn the word.
The sentence is as abnormal as its translation sounds.. "Als jullie niks aanraken, krijgen jullie een ijsje" (If you don't touch anything, you'll get an ice cream) would have made more sense, but I guess Duolingo was looking for a sentence with "tenzij" in it. "We gaan lopen, tenzij het regent" (We'll walk, unless it rains) would have been a less confusing example.
Grammar question: Would it be possible to write, "Jullie krijgen witte rijst, tenzij jullie raken iets ann."? I'm a bit confused as to why 'to touch' is in it's full verb form here, and not in it's separated verbal phrase form (which is used in earlier exercises here). Thanks in advance!