"denn" is a modal particle (filler word, flavoring particle) only used in questions, either to make them sound more casual or to express heightened or diminished surprise, interest, or urgency.
more about Modalpartikeln :
I think it would be accurate, although perhaps a little awkward-sounding to contemporary speakers; it seems more 19th century in style to me.
Additionally, in written form, I think commas around "then" would be better: "What, then, shall I take?" I think I've seen it written that way, and (as is generally the practice in English) the commas indicate where the speaker pauses, and I think a speaker would pause before and after the "then" in order to be correctly understood.
So, kind of like in the show Absolutely Fabulous when Edina says, "Inside my body there's a skinny person trying to get out," and her mother replies, "Just the one, then, darling?" "Then" is a modal particle? (That's used more in English English than in American English, by the way.)
Interesting sentence. After taking beginner-level German classes and having it drilled into me that "denn" is similar to "weil" (meaning because/for), and to avoid the pitfall of thinking it gets carried into English as "then"... I now find that in fact "denn" does very nicely get rendered "then" so long as it is being used as an adverb instead of a conjunction. I went over to reverso.net and looked at all of their sample sentences using denn as an adverb. Yep - every single one works very well with denn=then.
The only time "denn" really comes to mean "then" is when it's a particle. Consider the British-sounding expression "What's all this then?!" really the "then" has no meaning besides flavoring the sentence. It's the same in German using "denn". This DL sentence could be translated "So what do I take?" or "What am I taking then?" or simply "What should I take?" said in a polite or curious tone.
We are supposed to get really bewildered, pass the theme by blindly typing, retyping and re-retyping what we were told to type, finish the tree, pass the skill again in the strengthening, with slightly more comprehension, almost grasping the concept behind those denn dort weil dann deshalb, then get to it again and realize that now it's got very easy somehow.
Okay, I checked with canoonet and an online dictionary... and I can ONLY see "to take" or "to help oneself to"... or similar meanings for nehme. Literally this sentence reads What am I taking (or do I take) then. WHERE are they getting the "Shall" from? Appreciate any help here.
It's less literal translation and more how to preserve the feel of the sentence.
The "denn" gives it an extra-questioning (and, depending on your tone of voice, anticipatory) edge. This sentence is about having a choice (at a restaurant, for example) trying to decide which one to make, and going about that process. Depending on the speaker's tone of voice, this sentence can express happy anticipation or anxiety at the choice presented.
You could, technically, go and say "What am I going to take", which would have a similar enough meaning - but does not have the same feel of anticipation, which you can get closest to with "So, what shall I take?"
A translation of " Was nehme ich denn?", when you touched on one or a couple of the words was "What should I take?", which isn't what the German says, at least not from what we've been taught...
I was given words to pick from (annoying), and the closest I came to translating "Was nehme ich denn?" was "What shall I take?" - again not an accurate translation.
The translation is more of a futuristic tense, while the German is in the present, eg, "What will I do?" "Was werde ich tun?"
What confuses me more are suggestions of using "should". That would change the mood from indicative to conditional, eg, "What should I do?" "Was sollte ich tun?"
"What am I taking/ do I take?" is the closest direct translation I can think of, as I'm sure someone else has already pointed out by now
"Denn" and "dann" are two completely different words. The meaning of "denn" is explained rather well in this blog post: http://yourdailygerman.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/denn-meaning/ Basically, it means "because" . . . and other things. "Dann" means "then", as in "at that time". I am not sure if it also means "then" as in "in that case" or not.
"We should always be given unambiguous sentences"
I'm not sure such a language exists. At any rate, it wouldn't be an accurate representation of German (or any other language, to my knowledge). Are we here to learn to communicate, or to score well on Duolingo for purely gaming purposes?
I have spent much of my life in the technical writing profession, where unambiguous sentences mean the difference between some guy pulling the right or wrong lever and killing himself in some industrial accident. I've spent the rest of my life in teaching writing. If you're going to create language lessons for people to effectively learn a language, you must provide them with unambiguous sentences. So far, the Dutch module has nothing but cut-and-dried, unambiguous sentences. The Swedish module was pretty clean, Norwegian as well. Danish was okay though trippy. I promise you, the problem is with whoever created the German module, which was a quagmire of ambiguity and bad phrasing. They simply were poor writers and did not know what they were doing in creating that module.
Sorry but I cannot agree, although I think (as an English speaker) German is far more complicated and word order sometimes baffling, I don’t need to look too far to see lots of similarities, even when we talk about separable verbs; the two languages have the same roots; what English has done has got rid of gender and relies upon ‘subject verb object ‘ and a lot of guesswork, look at Old English and you will see German word order, 2000 years ago nobody spoke English in `Britain, we all spoke something similar to Gaelic Irish Breton or whatever; having learned some Danish, it is pretty much the same as Norwegian and Swedish (though the latter has some different spellings), it is just that Danish is so fiendishly hard to pronounce.
No, that's not correct.
For starters, ich solle is not right (that would be subjunctive).
sollen is one of the group of verbs that has no ending for ich and er, sie, es: it's ich soll and er soll just as it's "he shall" in English and not "he shalls".
Similarly with er kann" (he can), er muss (he must). Also er weiß* (English doesn't use the related verb "wit" any more).
I disagree; I would translate Was soll ich nehmen? as "What should I take?"
"Shall" implies that an action will be taken. "Should" does not presuppose that the action will be taken, only that it would be beneficial to do so.
Also, do note that "ich" is not capitalized unless it begins a sentence.
It does in this particular sentence. My answer of "what shall I take then" was accepted because here "then" is used as a filler word.
I've also commented on that discussion because in that example, 'denn' doesn't (really) translate as 'then' but more like "but" i.e. "but what do I know" or "what do I know though" or "hey, what do I know". I know what filler words are and in this sentence (was nehme ich denn), the English "then" can/should be used in the English translation: what shall I take then.