That's why I only added to your comment and didn't contradict it.
There are situations (e.g. when talking about the treatment of male chicken in food industry) where the words are used exactly like they are defined.
But in an everyday context, they can be treated as synonyms.
It's good that a learner is aware of these things.
As in they have a chicken as a pet? Likely:
Die Mädchen haben ein Huhn. or
Die Mädchen besitzen ein Huhn.
Notice how the article with
Mädchen is now the plural, nominative, definite article
die instead of the neutral, nominative, definite article
das and that the verb has now become the plural present conjugation
haben instead of the singular
Most German words (like in English) are spelled and pronounced differently in their plural forms but it just so happens that words like
Mädchen are the same in both forms.
Okay, so some googling has led me to understand that "Hahnchen" is an uncountable word when refering to chicken that you eat, and should only be preceded by an article if it's refering to the dimunitive form of "Hahn". So this sentence should translate to "The girl has a chick"?
Ok. I looked at the clues for food before beginning this lesson. It said whenever you use Hahnchen, it is referring to food. So the translation "The girl has a chicken" is incorrect according to that. If so, the sentence might translate as "The girl is having chicken" or mayben even "The girl is having the chicken"...if talking to a waiter. Your thoughts?
In German you don't use the word "haben" for describing that you eat something. "Das Mädchen hat ein Hähnchen" can only mean possession of the chicken. And althiugh it is true that "Hähnchen" is mostly used for describing chicken as food, it can also be used to describe a small or young (male) living chicken.
So the sentence is ambiguous in that it is not clear whether you talk about a living chicken or about food. But It can not mean "The girl is having chicken".
In German, certain noun suffixes take certain genders, and -chen is a suffix that denotes the neuter gender (das). This is why we have das Mädchen and das Hähnchen.
Here is a chart with some of these suffixes, hope it helps. http://deutschdrang.com/dir/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/suffixes.png
There are many words in German to which a "-lein" or "-chen" is attached.
You can even attach it yourself to other words to create new ones or to names.
This 'belittles' the word. So if there is a little girl called "Marie" someone might call her "Mariechen" because he wants to emphasize how cute she is or just thinks of her being cute in this particular moment.
The common word 'bisschen' is kind of a diminutive too. "Biss" can be compared with "bit(e)" here. That's why "ein bisschen" translates to "a little bit".
"Ein Hündchen" which consists of "ein Hund" + "-chen" is an expression for a small and cute dog.
"Ein Knöpfchen" consisting of "Knopf" and "-chen" denotes a small button. And so on...
So literally "Hähnchen" is a small "Hahn" (a rooster).
In everyday use we Germans only use it for the food or mockingly to imply that a rooster could soon be processed into food... (which is not particularly tactful when told to a child who perceives the cock as a pet rather than a source of food.)
(Nearly) every chicken-based food would be translated to "Hähnchen-" something.
- "a chicken leg" translates to "eine Hähnchenkeule"
- "a chicken wing" = "ein Hähnchenflügel"
- "a chicken nugget" = "ein Hähnchennugget"
I agree with the previous comments that Duo seems to have ïgnored. It is wrong in English to say "I am eating a chicken" unless you actually are eating a whole one. When having a chicken meal you say "I am having chicken". There is no article unless you are telling you server "I will have the roast chicken". Duo needs to correct this mistranslation.