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translate

Hello, I have 2 sentences. I translated them. But where is the "speek" word? Why google translate dont use "sprechen"?

Thanks. Danke.

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    "Ich kann Türkisch sprechen." is correct grammar but not ideomatic. In German, we say "Ich kann Türkisch." or "Ich spreche Türkisch.", the latter being preferable, in particular in more formal speech. I can't comment on Google algorithms.
    – Roland
    Sep 29 at 10:31
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    @Roland Please don't answer in comments.. ;)
    – choXer
    Sep 29 at 12:22
  • Welcome to German.SE. You wrote "I translated them" and "why google translate don't use..." - did I just fail to see your translation or was using google translate your translation? Just because you miss the verb "sprechen" I assumed in your translation it exists and you used google to check your own attempt. So in case you have one, please provide your own translation as well. Sep 29 at 14:20
  • @Roland: Just copy your comment in an answer and I will upvote...
    – Tode
    Sep 29 at 14:25
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    Screenshots instead of searchable text are not considered helpful in German Language as well as in other StackExchange sites for the same reasons non searchable, not editable, ... Google translate as single source of confusion is also a bit on the simple side.
    – guidot
    Sep 29 at 14:57
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Languages have different, in some cases extremely different, grammar. Machine translations started with literal word-by-word translations, which are extremely bad for this reason. As machine translation algorithms evolved, they became better and better at producing translations with correct grammar. However, the translations still often did not appeared idiomatic to native speakers because often one of several valid choices is preferred by them and this choice can be quite different between languages. Modern machine translation tries to solve this (I believe by utilizing a text corpus). As a result you won't necessarily find a literal translation of each word from the original phrase in the translation.

"Ich kann Türkisch sprechen." is correct grammar but apparently judged not idiomatic by the Google algorithm (this could change with context). In German, we tend to say "Ich kann Türkisch." or "Ich spreche Türkisch.", the latter being preferable, in particular in more formal speech.

I can't comment on Google algorithms more specifically.

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  • "but not idiomatic" - while "Ich kann Türkisch." is certainly shorter and more frequently used, it is a stretch to claim that "Ich kann Türkisch sprechen." is not idiomatic at all. "Ich kann Türkisch sprechen." is a perfectly valid and idiomatic sentence, as well, at the very least when one wants to be explicit about being able to speak Turkish (as opposed to read, write, or understand, for instance). Sep 30 at 4:57
  • @O.R.Mapper See the Ngram. Yes, it is a valid sentence. However, it's very rare and to my ears it sounds very stilted.
    – Roland
    Sep 30 at 5:40
  • How would you emphasize in a non-stilted way then that you can speak Turkish? "Ich kann Türkisch sprechen, aber nicht schreiben.", "Ich kann kein Türkisch sprechen, aber ich kann es verstehen." etc. sound completely normal to me. Sep 30 at 5:53
  • One more thing to note: Maybe it's a regional thing, or maybe it's because Ngram focuses on written texts: For spoken language, I'd consider "Ich spreche Türkisch." to sound much more unnatural than "Ich kann Türkisch sprechen.", maybe precisely because it appears as a more polished sentence, too polished for anyone to use other than in writing. Sep 30 at 5:55
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    @O.R.Mapper We can agree to disagree here. I would not actually say this sentence (except maybe in some pretty narrow context). I would say something like "Ich verstehe Türkisch, spreche es aber leider nicht." None of this is relevant to the question 'Why google translate dont use "sprechen"?' The google algorithm doesn't judge "Ich kann Türkisch sprechen." as idiomatic. It could even be wrong and that still would be the reason why "sprechen" is not in the translation.
    – Roland
    Sep 30 at 6:11
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Part of OP's confusion probably stems from the fact that the English verb can can only be used as an auxiliary verb. The German congnate können can also be used as a an auxiliary verb and can can almost always be translated with können. However, können can also be used as non-auxiliary verb, so können cannot always be translated with can.

In Ich kann Türkisch. kann is used as a transitive verb. This is the 3rd meaning listed in the Wiktionary page on können. There is no equivalent meaning of can in English.

As @Roland pointed out, Ich kann Türkisch sprechen. is grammatically correct, but not idiomatic in German. But the more idiomatic Ich kann Türkish. can be tricky to parse for an English speaker since I can Turkish. is not only unidiomatic, but also grammatically incorrect in English.

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  • "but not idiomatic in German" - same as in Roland's answer, from which this remark was simply taken over, while "Ich kann Türkisch." is certainly shorter and more frequently used, it is a stretch to claim that "Ich kann Türkisch sprechen." is not idiomatic at all. "Ich kann Türkisch sprechen." is a perfectly valid and idiomatic sentence, as well, at the very least when one wants to be explicit about being able to speak Turkish (as opposed to read, write, or understand, for instance). Sep 30 at 4:57

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