Is this the usual way to ask for a name in German? It just seems kind of awkward/clumsy (and the English translation not being very natural imho doesn't really help).
It's the/a super-polite way to ask for someone's name, very much as the English translation is a polite means to attempt to ascertain someone's name.
Nach means after, so you're actually asking if you can ask after their name, which is perfectly acceptable even in english.
Really? I haven't heard a native English speaker in the US use "May I ask after your name." That sounds unnatural and clunky to me, although I would be able to figure out what you're talking about with context.
Is that used more in England, UK, or other English-speaking regions of the world?
I have never heard anyone use it in english either, but I have read in in old books. I think it is archaic. It sound clunky in german too. lol
Fancy restaurants normally ask for names so they can check for reservations, so that's probably the context/meaning of this.
When you're looking to buy a specific item at the shop you might say, "I am after...".
Another scenario could be where you're trying to find a specific coworker at your work and ask another coworker of their whereabouts. You might say, "I am after...".
Not sure. I'm a bit fuzzy on that, but "May I ask about your name?" sounds like you want the origin of the name, not the name itself.
it would be fine if you were asking someone else about this other person's name (as in you're clandestinely trying to get to know that person for some reason) but it's weird to ask after or about someone's name directly
As an english speaker i can say that that is perfectly acceptable, (I have used it myself), however when I used it as my answer, I was marked wrong.
And here I was thinking that I had the dative case down. Could someone please explain to me why it's "Namen" instead of "Name" here?
It's the dative of name: http://www.dict.cc/deutsch/Name.html
The declension is called N-Deklination (for weak "schwache" Nomen) and only hits male nouns: http://www.mein-deutschbuch.de/lernen.php?menu_id=55
hope this helps!
In this sense, ihrem is used as a dative possessive pronoun. The preposition 'nach' when used with 'fragen' must be used with the dative case.
Okay, just checking if I understand it right: after 'fragen' the case is Akkusativ and after 'fragen...nach' it is Dativ?
The person/thing being asked is in the Akkusativ case and the thing being asked for is in the Dativ case.
I am asking him (akk.) for his name (dat.).
Ich frage ihn (akk.) nach seinem Namen (dat.).
Hope this helps!
"May I ask what your name is?" seems like a phrase that would be more realistically used to express this, but was not accepted as a translation. Am I alone in thinking this?
I am sure that there are several ways to ask the same thing in German, as there are many ways to do so in English.
They may be sort of equivalent, but each of them may carry a bit of meaning that is particular to it.
"May I ask you for your name?" is certainly "equivalent" to "May I ask what your name is?".
However, how much should we appreciate the fact that they are not identical sentences? And how much this appreciation is a reflection of our command of the language?
Thanks for your insightful reply.
I guess you are talking about formal equivalence vs dynamic equivalence.
Given the complete lack of context in Duolingo exercises it is hard to determine which approach is more appropriate. For every day communication I would think dynamic equivalence would be more appropriate, i.e. choosing the most idiomatic expression in the target language, whereas formal equivalence would be more for academic, technical or nuanced situations.
Elsewhere, Duolingo seems to accept variant translations that stray significantly from the direct "literal" translation, when that is how you would typically say it in the target language, hence my comment.
This is indeed a very complex issue.
Even more so when we realize that a direct "literal" translation (or a version that aims at "formal equivalence") is sometimes clearly incorrect or weird sounding. (So, at least in these cases, dynamic equivalent versions, being the only options available, must be accepted.)
I believe Duolingo's interface is too simple to deal with this issue. (I'm not saying that as a "faultfinder", but as a fan and supporter. I "love" Duolingo.)
I'm really enjoying the Jaggawhy/HelcioTJ discussion, but, for me, with my poor English, is important to know the most used version. Besides the literal translation is easy to find, isn't it?
I know "ask after" as in ask about someone. The Cambridge dictionary gives it as British. I know it from the US. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/ask-after-sb
I would say "May I ask you your name?" - no preposition at all. Duo does not accept. I have reported.
That would be können. Dürfen implies that permission is needed: it's always safest to use 'may' for dürfen
Due to the capital letters of Sie and Ihrem in the written exercise it must be the 'formal/polite' you. If it was 'ihrem', then your answer is correct.
"May I ask what is your name" was rejected. I believe this is a superior translation to "May I ask what your name is".
More confusion for me.....your name = dein Namen, her name = ihrem Namen ????