At first, I thought I was in the idioms and this was some attempt to translate, "People who live in glass houses..." then I remembered I wasn't. One of the good things about being a native English speaker and learning German is that much of our language is based in German. "Bessere" sound similar to "better" so I managed to guess correctly.
Sadly this isn't so. It just seems that way since the words that are similar are so close. Only about 10% (or less) of English is based on Old English which has its roots in Proto-germanic languages. The rest of our words are loaned from French and Latin. While somewhat of a dry read if you aren't really into linguistics, this book is awesome: http://www.amazon.com/Power-Babel-Natural-History-Language/dp/006052085X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452140600&sr=8-1&keywords=Power+of+babel
I'm not sure what you mean by "words that are similar are so close". Anyway, it is true that English is largely dominated by "foreign" words, although they've often been in the language so long, that it's no longer reasonable to call them foreign. I don't know where you found that statistic though, since everywhere I looked, it was singificantly higher than that, here is one example:
Interestingly, although not surprisingly, the share of Germanic words is much higher when only the most common thousand words is taken into consideration; most likely because much of the Latin and Greek vocabulary belongs to technical language.
There's a society of people recreating English as "Anglish" who attempt to raise the share to 100%.
What this perhaps doesn't take into account though is that many "French" words in English ultimately have Germanic roots, such as "garden"
Hence, "garden" and "Garten" are similar, even though "garden" counts as "coming from French" and "Garten" doesn't.
(Interestingly, the word "yard" is actually the cognate of "garden", but that isn't half as recognisable.)
By "words that are similar are so close" I meant to indicate that we should be able to clearly identify words that found their way from German such as swim, and begin, etc. Clearly no one is going to look at jetzt and know that it means now or Leute means people. And yes if you narrow the vocabulary down to very frequent words (1-2K), there will be a higher percentage of German, but by and large we rely on a much larger collection of words. The statistic comes from the book I mentioned. Goes into great depth about word origins. For a taste of what language would look like if we only ever used 1000 words, take a look at this: http://www.amazon.com/Thing-Explainer-Complicated-Stuff-Simple/dp/0544668251/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8qid=sr= which interestingly enough he just translated into German.
In English, you need an article with the singular. "Better houses have window" doesn't work.
It also seems unlikely - A better house has only one window?
The mix of singular and plural - houses (plural) and window (singular) is also awkward, because it implies that there are several houses but only one window, but it's occasionally done.
Because it is describing "Häuser", which is a plural noun in the nominative case with no article.
Most adjectives take an ending depending on a) the gender of the noun (masculine, feminine, neuter or plural), b) the case of the noun and c) whether the noun has an article.
The strong plural adjectives take -e in the nominative/accusative; the weak ones take -en.
Apparently when there's no article, the noun's case is placed on the adjective. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_adjectives#Strong_inflection
eg: Der kleine Hund. Ein kleiner Hund. (to distinguish from neuter eg ein kleines Haus) Kleiner Hund
Just a little note:
Beßer has never been a correct way to write besser. I can't remember the traditional rules but I think one would use ß instead of ss at the end of a word (Schloß/Schloss) or word segment (Eßtisch/Esstisch) or before a t (ißt/isst), on top of long vowels and diphthongs (like today). There may be more rules but it's not important nowadays.
ß has nothing to do with umlauts. "Umlaut" is a type of ablaut that happens in German, and is represented by the diacritic called an "umlaut" that developed from e. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umlaut_(linguistics)
I agree--this does mean the same thing. On the other hand, this is kind of colloquial and idiomatic. Literally, "have got windows" means that, at some point in the past, the houses "got" (i.e., received) windows, which of course isn't what the sentence is going for.
I do agree with you, though. Your sentence does mean exactly the same thing as the original (even if idiomatically). But I see where Duo is coming from. Bottom line: I'd say report it.
EDIT: Never mind, looks like I completely misunderstood you. Strange that it would correct to "have got." I would have expected it to change "the best" to "better." Weird.
Thanks, that's effectively what I was asking. Do you know how frequent it is for German words to have Latin origins? I didn't think there would be many – except, of course, words that have made their way into German from English or the Romance languages. But I really don't know. :)
There are a good many that are so deeply engraved into the language that most people have no idea that they have Latin roots, for example Teppich meaning carpet (tapis in French). More examples include Brief, Mauer, Käse, Uhr, Pferd, Schule, etc.
There are however, far more that are clearly Latin in origin, but are nevertheless completely German, like Auto, which is probably one of the most well known German words thanks to Volkswagen ads, on top of that there is of course, Intelligenz, Elektrizität (Blitzfeuererregung!!!), Grammatik, Sofa, Musik, Information, aktiv, direkt, etc.
There are also plenty of words that come straight from French, some retaining French Pronunciation, for example, Mode, Chance, salopp, Restaurant, Cousin, Dusche, Niveau, Portemonnaie, Zigarette, Soße, etc.
There are also some Latin words that German gets via English, for example, Computer, Party, Internet, Foto, etc.
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify something in english, which is not my native language.
How could something be "Better houses", why is not "The best houses"? I am not talking about the translation, but about the meaning of the word "better", which seams to be the same in german. I thought that better was always used in comparison with something. I would understand it in a sentence like «The houses that have windows are better than...». But what is its signification here?
Thank you very much!
It is correct, but it's somewhat abstract without context. It is basically implying what your last sentence is saying. If you said, "This house isn't very good. Better houses have windows," then it would make more sense, but it's still odd to think about because even primitive makeshift shelters often have windows. A more feasible example would be something like "Good books are worth reading. Better books are worth reading again." "Better" is comparative, but since Duo is giving us mostly short fragments to teach grammar rather than full sentences in context, it's not meant to make perfect sense on its own. "Best" is superlative, meaning nothing is better, whereas better is just relative to something else which may be good or bad, so they're not interchangeable. The same goes for the German.
It depends on gender (masculine, feminine, neuter or plural), case and the presence of the articles. This is a good explanation: http://www.learn-german-smarter.com/learn-german-adjective-endings/
I just wanted to add a related fact.
At one stage the city of Edinburgh had a tax on sunlight, designed to tax big houses with large windows. To get around the tax, a number of houses were built without windows.
So there are some very nice old expensive houses in Edinburgh without windows.
This is easy: singular words that don't denote an uncountable entity (such as "water" or "wood") must have an article with them, in German as well as in English. A sentence like "better houses have window" is grammatically wrong and doesn't exist. It needs to be "better houses have a window", and "bessere Häuser haben ein Fenster" in German, if you want to talk about single windows.
In principle, there are five ways to form the plural in German (sometimes they are accompanied by changing a vowel to an umlaut):
- -er ending e.g. das Haus - die Häuser
- -(e)n ending e.g. die Suppe - die Suppen
- no change in the ending e.g. der Vater - die Väter, das Fenster - die Fenster
- -e ending e.g. der Baum - die Bäume, der Teich - die Teiche
- (e)s ending.
As already said by Copernicus, the latter appears only in words loaned from foreign languages (mostly English or French). And there are some words taken from mostly Latin or Greek that preserve the Latin resp. greek plural endings.
There are some rules of thumb, but in principle you have to learn the way to form the plural together with the word (that's why you can find it in dictionaries). You can't derive that.
There's often not clear logic as to which ending a plural noun should get. German has a number of ways to form plurals, and you often can't tell which one a word will take just by looking at the word.
With that said, "-s" is one of the less common plural endings, usually used for loanwords. So if you have to guess a plural ending, "-s" should probably not be your first choice.
There are some nouns--uncountable nouns--that can't take an indefinite article. These are often substances like "milk" or "sugar" where we are referring to an amount of the substance instead of one individual unit (so "a sugar" doesn't make sense). Other uncountable nouns include some abstract concepts ("information," "privacy") and some other nouns that don't look at an individual unit ("furniture," "traffic").
Apart from these, you need an article if you're talking about the singular. "... haben Fenster" will be understood as multiple windows because there is no article.
EDIT: One notable exception in German is occupations: "Ich bin Lehrer" instead of "Ich bin ein Lehrer." Maybe these are what you were thinking of?
That's a different question. I responded to raul_soler, who (if I understand correctly) thought that, in English, there had to be an article before "better houses."
I am a native English speaker. Whether the German sentence can translate as either "The better houses . . . " or "Better houses . . . " is a question for a native German speaker.
This sounded dumb to me......why would there be houses in Germany with no windows......so I contacted a person in Germany who helps me understand strange things like this. He said there is a saying in Germany....."Better houses have windows".....which means......Build it right from the beginning and there will be more time to enjoy later.
Considering how many people wrote in about this, perhaps Duo should consider explaining what this means.