It could indeed!
The very well known Swedish children's song Bä, bä vita lamm (a translation of the English Baa, Baa, Black Sheep) ends "och två par strumpor åt lille, lille bror". This has (maybe just jokingly) sometimes been translated to "and two pairs of socks ate the tiny little brother" rather than "and two pairs of socks for the tiny little brother".
If I were asked to translate "what is eating the boy" I'd write "Vad är det som äter pojken". Could you comment on which is more correct/natural/common, please?
Yup, your sentence would be the natural way of expressing it, although both would be correct. Since What is the boy eating is the more logical translation of Vad äter pojken, hardly anyone would interpret it as the boy being eaten, except in the söi pikku pikku veljen example.
Vita does mean white. I guess there's some artistic licence involved in the translation of the song, as there often is.
The two aren't the same song word for word but likely descended from the same original nursery rhyme, but changes down to the 'Chinese whispers' effect.
[Digression] I just realized the same sentence in Italian also shares the same potential ambiguity about whether "what" is subject or object :-)
Heh... Duolingo accepted my answer of:
- What is eating the boy?
This reminds me of Italian, where:
- Che mangia il ragazzo? (Italian)
could mean either:
- What is the boy eating?
- What is eating the boy?
I wrote What is eating the boy and it said I was correct. So that's pretty morbid.
I also said that and was like oh god Duolingo is a Cannibal, oh wait hes a bird so hes carnivourous, Look out for Duo the- i got nothing
But it would have to be Vem äter pojken for it to be cannibalism. :-)
(Again, regardless of whether he is the subject or the object of the verb.)
In english, what's eating the boy means the same as what's bothering the boy. Not so strange.
Looks like they use gnawing for that in Swedish. Although, the English for metaphoric corrosion is more commonly eating at rather than just eating.
Vad gnager dig?
I don't think that's very common. There are many ways of saying it but I can't think of a really common expression for it at the moment.
At least some American dialect, I guess, as in the movie What's Eating Gilbert Grape?.
Does "vad" and "var" (inside the sentence) pronounced in the same way [vo:]?
Oftentimes in speech, you'll hear them as /vɑː/ without the final letter, yes.
If a doctor was asking a mom about what her son eats in a specific meal wouldn't it be correct to say "what the boy eats for breakfast" ?
It still wouldn't be a complete sentence – the doctor would ask What does the boy eat for breakfast? then.
Hold kæft, is this like. . . literal? Or is it like English's little idiom, to ask what's bothering someone?
It's not used as an idiom in Swedish. Most likely it's just a question about what the kid is eating, although a more sinister interpretation is also possible as has been pointed out elsewhere.
Also they say Hold kæft a lot in Danish but there's probably a bigger risk that you sound rude in Swedish if you say that.
When I hover my cursor over 'vad', both "what" and "how" are suggested as meanings. I don't understand why "how is the boy eating" wasn't acceptable. Maybe his mother has been trying to teach him good table manners, and he's gone to visit his grandmother, and the mother asks her, "how is he eating now--in a nice, gentlemanly way?" Someone below asked about this translation, and you said "hur", not "vad" would have been used. I see a grammatical distinction--at least in English 'what' is a pronoun, while 'how' is an adverb--(except maybe in something like "Do you know how?" where it is perhaps a ...pronoun?...standing in for a noun clause "how to do it". But then "how" would be the direct object of "know".).
So I guess my question is, is 'hur' only and always an adverb, and is 'vad' only and always a pronoun? And then, IF 'vad' is only a pronoun, why is 'how' suggested as a meaning for it in the lesson?
The pop-up suggestions are not specific to the exercise. They are specific to the word (or fixed phrase).
Vad is what but I think it translates to how in phrases of the type: "How interesting!" such as "vad bra".
The sequence of words on English translation is totally damaged. I guess should be taken in consideration more natural phrase formats.