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"Tysklands huvudstad"

Translation:The capital of Germany

March 6, 2015

37 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dfpeterson

I am curious, why is the English version of these usually "The capital of Germany" when "Germany's capital" is equally valid and easier to comprehend?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Berniebud

I guess Swedes prefer "Xs Y" in the same way we prefer "Y of the X".

Movie titles in Swedish are usually "Xs Y" while it's "Y of X" in English.

The Swedish title for "Mask of Light" is "Ljusets Mask", for example.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dfpeterson

In English if you say "Mask of light" most people would assume you meant "A mask made of light" but if you sad "light's mask" people would think it was "light belonging to the mask" but with "Germany's capital" and "The capital of Germany" they both have the same meaning.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Berniebud

Does this question not accept "Germany's capital"? If so, I agree that it should.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dfpeterson

It accepts it, but that's not why I posed the question. The problem I have is when it gives you the English version and asks for the Swedish version to go from "The capital of Germany" to "Tysklands huvudstad" you need to rearrange the order of the words, however to go from "Germany's capital" to "Tysklands huvudstad" you don't (and if I remember correctly there's also "The capital of Finland"). To me it seems like it is more confusing than it needs to be for the sake of teaching people that Germany = Tyskland and capital = huvudstad.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

We made the opposite call when building this course, we feel that it is important for learners to get into their heads that Swedish normally uses the genitive when you'd use an of construction in English. I see that as an at least as important goal of this excercise as learning the words in the sentence.

Whatever choices we make, some people will always disagree with us, but I just wanted to point out that we didn't do this without thinking.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/3_pipit

FWIW, I think the strategy of giving the slightly more wordy English (The capital of Germany) is useful for just the reasons that Arnauti suggests. The first couple of times I had an sentence to translate which used the English 'of' construction I tried to translate it word for word by using 'av' and of course got it wrong. I've since learned to always use the genitive form, but it's helpful to have the lesson reinforced.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yidne

I second @dfpeterson's suggestion. As we are not here to learn or teach English, "The capital of Germany" option could be included in the list of correct answers, but it should not be suggested as another correct solution. Doing so does more bad than good. This can be implemented (if it is not already implemented) in the software by giving weight to the answers (like primary answer, secondary answer). In so doing, we can avoid the random selection of the sentences when the questions are posed from both directions.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kiteo

The course creators do actually want to help the many Swedish etc learners who are learning English too.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kiteo

Rather, the mask belonging to or of the light. That’s not a great example since it’s poetic and abstract, and in poetry it could mean either or a number of other things.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

Huh, that's a very interesting question. You're the native speaker, so correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't "the capital of x" typically used when describing the country, and "x's capital" when describing the city? E.g. "the capital of Germany is Berlin", but "we take a look at the nightlife in Germany's capital."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/skrats

I would say the capital of Germany is Berlin, if I were leading with it. However I would say Germany's capital, Berlin, has a lot to offer in terms of nightlife.. so I think we're in agreeance?? Lol


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dfpeterson

English was always one of my worst subjects in school, so maybe one is more "correct" than the other, but you could just as easily say "Germany's capital is Berlin"

It just seems a bit unnecessarily confusing (especially when translating from English to Swedish) to have to rearrange the word order when there is a perfectly good form that keeps the same order.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

Yeah, point taken. And I'm more interested in how people actually use language than in how it's taught in schools anyway. :)

I'm guessing that "capital of x" is assumed to be a more typical expression even though both are valid. But that's only a guess.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/3_pipit

It might depend on which you want to emphasize, but in general I think we would say "Germany's capital" more often than "the capital of Germany" Maybe you would use the latter if you were doing some sort of a quiz about European capitals. (The capital of Germany is...The capital of Sweden is.... etc.).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

Google gives three times as many hits for The capital of Germany. It might be something regional, or as devalanteriel says, a difference in meaning. But apart from that, the of construction is clearly more frequent.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

I mean, there could be regional variation so that people actually speak like that where you are. But also, it's super hard to know what is most frequent just from intuition. I've checked myself and been surprised many times.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/3_pipit

yeah, I agree. I'm usually quick to catch other people unwarrantedly relying on intuition, but not so quick to catch myself doing it.... But thanks for taking the trouble to look it up!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Synthpopalooza

I use both equally, and I am a native speaker. The "x of y" is predominant in the romance languages like Spanish which do not have a possessive form for their nouns.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

According to Google, the of construction is used about 3-10 times as often as the genitive, depending on what country we're talking about.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarksAaron

Dutchland's Headstead ;P


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarksAaron

That's literally what "Tysklands huvudstad" is etymologically.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Silsool

So why Tyskland? It's funny how Germany always has a particular name in each language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zmrzlina

"Tyskland" is actually exactly the same word as "Deutschland" etymologically. Both derive from Proto-Germanic þiudiskaz ("of the people"), from þeudō ("people"), and the country suffix -land.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sixangryeels

It's almost the same as English in Russian, Германия


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Silsool

Yeah, but you call them Немецкий, which pretty much has the same original meaning as barbarian. And check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terms_used_for_Germans#Jiamen_.28colloquial.29


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/antonoverby

So how does one say Berlin in Swedish?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/antonoverby

Lol -- I looked the Wikipedia page up in Swedish after doing this exercise and saw. Thanks! Here's a lingot.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jae_Lejonet

How am I supposed to remember that?!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/coagul

So, in Swedish, you cannot say "Tysklands huvudstad" and "Huvudstad av Tysklanden" as for equal meaning?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arnauti

The latter is just wrong. But you can say Huvudstaden i Tyskland.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yuyu2809

Would it be correct to say "Tysklands huvustaden" to correspond with the definite of the English sentence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

No, you don't use the definite after possessives - just like you wouldn't say "Germany's the capital".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheSeez

Berlin är en vackra stad.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

en vacker stad* :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheSeez

Tack så mycket!

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