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  5. "Hebben de muren het vermogen…

"Hebben de muren het vermogen om te luisteren?"

Translation:Do the walls have the ability to listen?

December 11, 2014



Although that might be the literal translation, the one which immediately springs to mind is "do walls have ears?" - but I have to remember this is a Dutch course not an English one!


If I were translating a novel or story, and wanted the English version to sound authentic, I'd certainly choose the more idiomatic: "Do walls have ears?". But I assume that's not what's expected here, especially as "vermogen" ("ability") is one of the abstract nouns we're supposed to be learning. Then again, occasionally Duolingo does throw in an idiom or two, and the literal translation is rejected!


The problem is that the course is inconsistent. There are a couple of examples in other lessons where idiomatic, rather than literal, translations were also accepted. The course has to choose one—either idioms are accepted, or they aren't.

You're right that "ability" is a noun we're supposed to learn here, so if idiomatic translations are accepted, this sentence should be changed to another one where you HAVE to translate "ability".


I think accepting idioms and literal translations are both fine. One gives you an understanding of the sentence structure, the other a better sense of real language use. Idioms are one of the things that really confuse people who have started feeling confident enough to try to speak a language. They understand a lot, and then an idiom is thrown at them - like this course. So far, I like the sentences used here much better than those in either Spanish or Portuguese, they seem more like things you might hear in casual conversation.

Edit : I tried Do the walls have ears in a second attempt at this question - not accepted. The strength bar is nice - it lets you try things you otherwise wouldn't.


Strength bar? My like was for the "things you might hear in casual conversation" such as 'my hovercraft is full of jellied eels' ;)


I'm not sure what to call the bar thingy that replaced hearts on the PC. And my favorite in the Dutch course so far is Ï can't take my backpack on the plane because there is a rhinoceros in it." But - substitute something else (like a half completed knife that my brother was making one time) - and the sentence works beautifully.


I nearly tried it. I wonder whether it would have been accepted.


I guess this is the problem.....we want to get the answer right more than correct Duolingo.....but I've made a few reports (bottom left) that have been accepted so that's encouraging.


"Do walls have the ability to listen?" (as opposed to THE walls) is not accepted. I don't think they are talking about any specific walls but walls in general.


'Have the walls the ability to listen?' is not accepted.

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