Well...it only looks like the ending is "chen." In this case, the root is actually "Mensch"(= "human being") and only "en" is actually added (to form the pural). However, you are correct for words formed by adding "chen" to the root; "Hahn" (= "hen") + "chen" = "Hähnchen" (= "chicken"); they are neuter. Note the vowel in single syllable roots typically (always?) acquires an umlaut ("ding-ding" when I was a small kid 60 years ago) in the process.
In my experience - I am 74 - using "men" when one means "humans" or "people" is becoming less and less common as time goes by. It seems rather sloppy to me; if you say "man" or "men" when you mean "people" you may be misunderstood. When someone hears you say "man" or "men" there is a risk that they might think you meant "man" or "men".
It's close to “boo yah”, except that “ch” is somewhat “stronger” than “y”, close to a “hy” sound, like the first sound in “human” in many accents (unfortunately it can't be broken down any further, it is an elemental sound, specifically a palatal unvoiced fricative). The sound is softer (but still unvoiced, that is like “k” not like “g”) after a consonant, so for example “Mädchen” does sound a lot like “mettyen”. As for the “er” part, it's actually not quite the same as the English “ah” (or German “a” or “ah”), but it is similar. In comparison the German “er” is central (that is between the A in “father” and the one in “fat”, but not quite any of the two exactly) and higher (sort of between “ah” and “uh”).
Of course this is all true assuming you are a native English speaker, otherwise I could try to put the sounds in perspective based on your mother language.
I've noticed that in the attempt to explain the ever-confusing-for-English-speakers ‘ich’ sound, I completely forgot to touch on the ‘ü’ pronunciation, which of course isn't really the same as ‘oo’, but rather something between ‘oo’ and ‘ee’. The best way to produce the sound is to say ‘ee’ and then round the lips as if to say ‘oo’ but without moving the tongue. In fact this is what the sound is: a rounded high front vowel, i.e. ‘ee’ with rounded lips.
If the ‘ü’ in a word is short, then you pronounce ‘i’ (as in ‘pit’) with rounded lips.
That usually depends on the vowel before the -ch if it is of the group -a, -o, -u, -au it is like your challah roll (I have no idea how to pronounce challah, but guttural sounds about right).
If it is in the group of the lighter vowels like -e, -i, -ä, -ö, -ü, -ei, -eu, -äu it is the chef-version. That makes Buch an interesting case. In singular it has an guttural -ch, but because of the vowel shift in plural Bücher has a chef-ch. You can hear the difference here: http://www.dict.cc/?s=Buch vs. http://www.dict.cc/?s=b%C3%BCcher
That is why I would recommend to you to use the ue-workaround if you want to express an umlaut, but don't have the key on your keyboard. This also works for the other 2 umlauts: ö=oe and ä=ae.
The "ch" sound you hear in the word "chef" (which is of course a French word) is the same as our "sh" in ship. It is written "sch" in German and is pronounced "dentally" to use your word. Schiff, schnell, zwischen, etc.
With all due respect, I must disagree with the following statement from Karlche123: "If it is in the group of the lighter vowels like -e, -i, -ä, -ö, -ü, -ei, -eu, -äu it is the chef-version."
While it is true that the vowels listed above signalize the softer guttural, the "ch" in German is never pronounced like chef unless it is in a borrowed French word.
The "ch" in Bücher is a soft guttural and is formed at the back of the tongue (tip lowered, back of tongue raised thereby blocking the air flow.) You cannot easily make this sound if your upper and lower molars are touching. You can, though, say "sh" or the German "sch" with molars touching, even though you probably don't normally do it that way.
There are people, though, in cities like Cologne and Aachen and the surrounding areas who pronounce the ch in some words (but not all) like an "sch" or our "sh". They say typically Büscher instead of Bücher. Also "isch, misch und disch." The best and cutest example of a typical mispronunciation and an exercise for kids (and foreigners) is "grieschische Geschischte" instead of the correct " griechische Geschichte" (A fun one to practice)
So much concerning the soft guttural. I hope it helps!
Yes, Leute means people in a different way though. Menschen means men or mankind, so it refers our species (rational animal). Many people substitute people for men and person for man used in this sense, because over the centuries man has come be associate more and more exclusively with male men.
Leute is a people as in the collective noun referring to large group of human beings in one spot. It has no singular form.
Volk means people in the sense of "a people" an identifiable population e.g. the German people, the American people.
Most of the distinctions in the way the English word "people" is used only matter in a philosophical context, however.
There is a difference: Mädchen is pronounced "maihd-chen" - the ch is like in the word "sich" . Menschen is the plural of Mensch, the sch sound is like the sh sound in English. Pronounce it "menshen". So the words are different in the vowel pronunciation ,"ä" being sort of between "maid" and "med", and "e" like in men. They also differ in the pronunciation of "ch" and "sch". Go to: http://dict.leo.org/#/search=Mädchen&searchLoc=0&resultOrder=basic&multiwordShowSingle=on Click on the small arrow next to any word to hear excellent pronunciation.
One difference is that Leute is always plural, a collective term. "Die Menschen" is plural for "der Mensch". Menschen is also the preferred term when speaking of "mankind". In instances where we would say "Man" or "men" in philosophical terms, you would also say "der Mensch" or "Menschen". Also, to differentiate from animals, for example: Say you are out in the middle of nowhere and you suddenly see people, as opposed to rabbits and mountain goats, you might say, "Schau, da laufen Menschen!" (BTW, I think the given sentence is a bit odd - like so many in DL) Maybe it means, humans, as opposed to animals, read books.
It would mean something different with "Leute". There are various good explanations in the comments about the difference between "Leute" and "Menschen" which mostly boil down to: "Leute" is a group of people gathered in one place while "Menschen" focuses more on people as humans rather than animals or, say, martians.
By the way, English actually has more than one word for "grandmother" like German, actually it has at least three: grandmother, grandma and granny. It's just natural to have different levels of formality in addressing or referring to members of the family and English actually tends to have more variants than German.
In this case, based on the meaning of the original German, "people are". You would use "people is" when referring to a group of people belonging to the same country or culture (a Volk), for example: "the German people is honest" or "the indigenous peoples of Australia have many different languages" (yes, in this sense "people" has itself a plural).
*and where can I find ... ? If there are any notes, you can see them beneath the lesson options, where you get to select which lesson you'd want to do. Otherwise, you can read the notes by clicking on "Tips & notes" right between the "Quit" button and the hearts when you take the lesson.
„Menschheit“ is little more abstract than the English word mankind. (http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Menschheit) It is something closer to humanity. Although the distinctions aren't exactly the same.
I would say in this vague case that “mankind” is a possible translation for „Menschen.“ However, “mankind” is an abstract singular so it would be ”Mankind reads books.” It could not be “Mankind read books.,” since “mankind” is singular, nor could be “Mankind is reading books,“ since mankind is abstract.
However, in context this would be an unusual situation. Perhaps someone wanting to distinguish men from both beasts and separated substances would point out that men read books. Brutes lack the intellectual faculties and separated substance, being purely intellectual, lack materiality. The distinguishing feature, therefore, is that mankind reads books.
But more likely the context for this sentence is a group of human beings, perhaps in a library, reading books. In which case, “Mankind reads books,” would be an absurd rendering.
A question: at school we learned that "the people" means "tho whole nation"- specific country. And now I am not sure, if that is the same as "die Menschen" - shouldn't it be better without "the" in english version? As you see, English is not my mother languange and I always struggle with "the, a, an" in sentence....
I am neither native english nor german speaker, and just a recent beginner with German. So, I am geting a bit confused with so many different explanations. I would be very grateful if someone could simply tell me:
der Mensch / die Menschen / Menschen. Some exemple sentences.
Same with "People/ the people".
What is the difference in meaning between "Die Menschen lesen Bücher" and "People read books"?
Thank you very much!
The English word "men" doesn't include women. There are slang words that can be used for a general group of people, like "Hey guys," but the word "men" is a plural for "man" the same way "women" is a plural for "woman." Also, "people" is plural for "person." If you were to say "A people" you could indicate collective singular.
Man has always meant the species rational animal in English (see http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/man definitions 2-4). It is the correct translation for the Latin 'homo'. In English the species name, homo sapiens, means thinking man.
Before the 16th century, there were several words in use to mean male man, like the Latin 'vir' or the German 'Mann,' and one word to used to mean female man, woman. Over the years, the lack of standardized usage caused these words to drop out. English speakers would use the general word 'man' even when referring to groups that are of their nature limited to male men.
The word 'person' is often a convenient substitute for 'man', because most persons are men, and all men are persons, but it signifies something slightly different--an individual rational substance. Even if one were to reject other living persons, angels/God, there are also persons of a legal nature: e.g. corporations, states.
"People" refers to a population taken collectively, think of "We the People of the United States". It functions well as a quasi-plural person used to mean 'man', but because of how it functions it is somewhat less clear than using 'men'--to signify more than one--or mankind--to signify the species as a whole. Adding an indefinitely article to 'people' means that you are a talking about particular identify populations, and using the plural 'peoples' signifies that you are talking about more than one identifiable population.
In short, while some may for various psychological reasons prefer to avoid using the few masculine or feminine nouns--like the studies were less able to visualize themselves in a roles describe with the noun 'man'--it is revisionist and narrow minded to refuse to recognize them as valid translations.
In my opinion, with the context of the given example, "The people are reading books" is the most correct translation. (Using humans or mankind feels like it would be awkward here.) While what you are saying may be true, (I'm not disagreeing with you) my point is that I would expect most modern English speakers to assume that "The men are reading books" is a group of all males that are reading books vs "The people are reading books" as a group of mixed or unknown genders reading books.
In a different context, like where the whole of mankind is implied, I would completely agree that I would not make those gender assumptions.
I don't know enough German to know if this same rule applies but either way, I don't think accepting "The men" is a helpful way to correctly remember this particular word. If it was meant to be "The men" I would expect the program to accept "Die Männer" but not "Die Menschen."