"Where is the Norwegian cat?"
Translation:Missä norjalainen kissa on?
I think what duolingo is trying to say is that you distinguish "the" from "a" by starting with the subject. In this case it would probably be weird to ask "Where is a cat?", so whether at the start or not, means the same thing. EDIT: I was wrong. There is no hard and fast rule for inserting "a" or "the". The likelyhood of using "the" increases the sooner the word appears in the sentence, but that is all. A lot depends on context. I have seen the discussion somewhere else, so I gracefully ask you to ignore my guideline. It is hard and fast and thus often not true. Unfortunately. As a foreigner, hard and fast rules are easy. Nuance is not.
But you are certainly on the right track. :) In this case:
"Missä norjalainen kissa on?" - Where's the norwegian cat?
"Missä on norjalainen kissa?" - Where's a Norwegian cat?
However, if you were to say "Missä on se norjalainen kissa?" that would certainly refer to a specific cat even if the noun phrase comes at the end.
In fact the given translation is not the required translation. Where is the Norwegian cat is missä on norjalainen kissa. Whilst Word order is entirely irrelevant to the context of the translation, Duolingos alleged answer is in fact not what was asked for.
"Missä norjalainen kissa on?" is sort of the more grammatically correct/stylish way of asking "Where is THE Norwegian cat?", so I'd definitely prefer that word order. However, you can definitely also ask "Missä on norjalainen kissa?". It's just that the earlier a noun comes in a sentence the more definite it is, so using "Missä on norjalainen kissa?" feels like you are asking after any Norwegian cat, not a specific one. "Does someone know where I could find a Norwegian cat?" etc.
You utter a valid point. Let me say what I think. I suspect that technically you are right. But reading Finnish and listening to Finns a lot, I get the impression that there is a favoured way of saying it. I suspect the normal order for a statement is what Finnish people use after Missä. Even if the order technically does not matter (they will understand you), it might sound more natural. Finns: feel free to correct me if I am wrong, or to jump in and tell me I am right, if I am!
EDIT: of course the question remains how duolingo should present a preference.
Speaking to my finnish friend he said that it can be used both as Missä on norjalainen kissa? And Missä norjalainen kissa on? I dont think it should be incorrect but warn you that the order is prefered with on at the end. Much in the way spelling errors are. If its technically right and fins would understand it i dont think it warrants a life loss....