I've heard the word "Minütchen" being used before verbally, in cases where I though using "Minute" would suffice. Is there a difference between the two? The former is the diminutive form of the latter, but I don't see the difference – a minute is always a minute, nothing more and nothing less.
I do NOT totally agree with DJCrashdummy and therefor write my own answer:
First of all Minütchen is the diminutive of Minute and is used to play down the real time span that something lasts.
Lets take the following dialogue:
Person 1: Do you really need me to wait until you're done?
Person 2: Come on, it will just take a little minute
Person 1: Soll ich wirklich warten, bis Du (endlich) fertig bist?
Person 2: Komm schon, es dauert doch nur ein Minütchen!
In that case it is clear, that it will last more than a minute, until person 2 is really done, but wants to downplay and appease person 1 who is waiting.
So this is a little different from the other answer, as a Minütchen will not be less but rather more then one minute.
Well... from the technical point of view you are right: a minute is a minute and that's it.
On the other hand you can say from a linguistic point of view that there is a difference and it is used in different settings:
- Inaccurate time span:
"Minütchen" is sometimes used if you (hope/assume to) need less than a whole minute for something and/or you can't/won't be completely exact.
- Downplay the real time span:
also this diminutive form is used (sometimes as plural) to ask for the time of other people, if you want to express it less time than it really is.
- It is for sure also possible to combine this two cases.