Das Nebelhorn ist ein Signalhorn

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by Soarinxg32, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. Soarinxg32

    Soarinxg32 Senior Member

    On the wikipedia page:

    It has on the first sentence that;
    Das Nebelhorn ist ein Signalhorn zur Erzeugung von Schallsignalen oder Nebelsignalen in der Schifffahrt.

    On the English article version for this the first sentence states;
    A foghorn is a fog signal that uses sound to warn vehicles of navigational hazards or boats of the presence of other vessels in foggy conditions.

    My attempt at a translation of the German part:
    The fog horn is a signal horn for generating sound signals or fog signals in shipping.

    I know that these wiki articles are not meant to be direct translations of one another, but I am confused as to the Das in this sentence. I have seen in some grammar lessons that;
    Der, die and das are the same as "the" in English - the DEFINITE ARTICLE.
    and that;
    The INDEFINITE ARTICLE ("a" or "an" in English) is ein or eine in German.

    I also know that at times Das can be omitted in some translations to just state the noun, such as
    Das Boot (boat)

    But I wonder why they didn't write this as Eine Nebelhorn instead of Das Nebelhorn. Wouldn't this sound more appropriate and natural in German?
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
  2. perpend

    perpend Banned

    American English
    It's "das Horn" in German.

    German nouns can have one of three genders "masculine/feminine/neuter".

    "Horn" happens to be neuter. "Das Horn". So, it's correct in German.

    I might say "The foghorn is an alerting mechanism for generating sound or fog signals in shipping".
  3. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    The character of the definite articles is different. In German it is a gender word and also indicates the case. Since English has neither of the two the article has become a determiner, i.e. you usually use the definite article in English when you mean something specific. An article CAN be a determiner in German, too but it's not the only purpose.

    Not specific:
    Democracy is a form of government.
    Die Demokratie ist eine Herrschaftsform.

    The foghorn is very old.
    Das/Dieses Nebelhorn ist sehr alt.

    In your example you can say "das Nebelhorn" as well as "ein Nebelhorn" in German. It doesn't make a difference to me.
  4. Schimmelreiter

    Schimmelreiter Senior Member

    "Scientific" - with or without inverted commas - definitions tend to use the definite article: Der Schimpanse ist ein Primat aus der Famile der Menschenaffen.

    Non-scientific: Ein Schimpanse ist ein Menschenaffe.
  5. Soarinxg32

    Soarinxg32 Senior Member

    I am a little confused about the responses I am getting.

    So basically I'd like to know if a translation of;
    Das Nebelhorn ist ein Signalhorn could be translated as > The fog horn is a signal horn or A fog horn is a signal horn or both... :confused:

    Or does it only translate to > Fog horn is a signal horn, even though that wouldn't make much sense in English.
  6. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    In a nut shell, you got your answer here:
    The rest is just nuances.
  7. perpend

    perpend Banned

    American English
    Just a quick note: foghorn (one word)
  8. Schlabberlatz Senior Member

    German - Germany
    As far as I know, Frank78 is right. So when you talk about foghorns in general, like in the Wikipedia article, you would translate "Das Nebelhorn..." as "A foghorn...". When you talk about just one specific foghorn, you would translate it as "The foghorn...". "Das Nebelhorn, das Konrad Duden mir geschenkt hat ist sehr alt" - "The foghorn that etc."
  9. Soarinxg32

    Soarinxg32 Senior Member

    Oh, thanks Schlabberlatz! That solves my confusion.

    It is case specific. Why couldn't some just tell me this from the start?!?! :D
  10. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Frank DID tell you that in the beginning.

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