You would say "she has a chicken" if she had a whole cooked chicken in front of her. I mean my mum has said to me before "We're having a chicken tonight" meaning a whole chicken for between us all. It depends on the amount of chicken. Or maybe its a northern thing? I know some phrases here in the north of England aren't really used down south, such as the "Big light" in the living room, "Big coat" for a winter coat, and "The Asda" instead of just Asda, though the later might just be a Scouse thing.
Think of English where we have: Cow- live animal, Beef- dead cow on plate. Pig- life animal, pork-dead pig on plate. Hahn-live chicken, Hahnchen- dead chicken on plate. (Forgive the lack of umlauts but UK computers don't seem to be able to generate them on the internet unless the website puts them there as an option.)
Unless the girl having a live chicken at the table is a sadistic joke, I think they've got the context very wrong considering the subject is food.
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.
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"?
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.
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.
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".
When you attach the syllable "-chen" to a noun, you express that you are talking about a small version of the concept denoted by that noun. This is called a diminutive ending. "chen" alone does not have a meaning. Sometimes you have to change the original vowel of the noun to an Umlaut.
E.g. a "Bäumchen" is a small tree ("Baum" = "tree"), a "Häuschen" is a small house ("Haus" = "house"), a "Hähnchen" is literally a small cock ("Hahn" = "cock"; but "Hähnchen" can be used for both genders, i.e. "chicken"). The word "Mädchen" for girl originates from attaching "-chen" to "Maid", a word that meant "young woman", which is not used anymore in modern language.
The syllable "-lich"doesn't have a meaning of its own, too. It is used form adjectives from nouns or other adjectives, very much like "-y" or "-ly" is in English.
E.g. "schrecklich" ("terrible") is constructed by attaching "-lich" to the word "Schreck" ("shock", "scare").
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"
Because the word "Mädchen" is neuter. We don't talk about natural gender, but about grammatical gender. This is a category attached to every noun and which doesn't have to match some natural gender.
In fact you can even tell it is neuter because every noun ending in "-chen" is. It is a diminutive ending (denoting things that are small).
I'm not completely sure what you wand to say, but both word pairs have their right of existence. Both "chicken" and "Hähnchen" (or "Hühnchen") are countable, whereas you can describe the "substance" they consist of by using the uncountable mass term "Geflügel" = "poultry" (or "fowl").
So you can say "I eat two/three/four chickens" - "Ich esse zwei/drei/vier Hähnchen" and you can say "I eat poulty" - "Ich esse Geflügel" (without any artickle or number).
You can however, use "Hähnchen" as a mass term as well (then meaning "poultry). But then you don't use any article either.
Because the plural of "Hähnchen" is "Hähnchen", too,"Ich esse Hähnchen" is in fact ambiguous. It can mean "I eat poultry" (singular "Hähnchen without an article) or "I eat chickens" (plural "Hähnchen").