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Foot is singular, feet is plural. Why does Google translator fail to distinguish the difference and return "Fuss" for both?

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    Define “the translator”, please?
    – Stephie
    Apr 2 at 4:32
  • Why the downvotes? The fact that German, unlike English, does not pluralize measurement units is noteworthy.
    – mach
    Apr 2 at 9:15
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    @mach I didn't downvote the question, but it shows zero effort. People should at least try typing more than one word into their black boxes or magic machines; my feet would have sufficed to exclude the false premise. Strictly speaking, why does the [unnamed] translator … isn't even a question about the German language.
    – David Vogt
    Apr 2 at 9:55
  • @user610620: While I don't agree that question should have been closed, I do agree that most of the criticisms were valid. In the future, it would be better to respond to such criticism by adding missing details or including information to clear up misunderstandings. The main point of the comments to help you frame the question to get the best chance of getting a useful answer, German speakers have a reputation, deserved or not, for being blunt about criticism. But it doesn't help to take offense and not try to improve what is being criticized.
    – RDBury
    Apr 2 at 19:05

1 Answer 1

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I think what's going on is that when you use Fuß as a unit of measurement then it's used in the singular. So Er ist sechs Fuß groß rather than Er ist sechs Füße groß. If you're using Fuß as a body part then it works as you would expect: Er hat zwei Füße. I don't know if there are other situations where "feet" would translate to Fuß, but this one seems likely, and if so the problem should resolve itself if you switch to the metric system.

BTW, just to head off comments from the spelling police, you're using Swiss spelling. I gather from our previous interactions that you're more familiar with Swiss Standard German than Standard German. Not that Swiss spelling is wrong, but it may raise some eyebrows here since Standard German spelling is more common.

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    The problem does not solve when switching to metric. Nearly generally units of measurement are singular irrespective how many you measure. The only exception which comes to my mind right now is "Unze" (ounce). Yet in English you "walk 250 metres to the next bus stop" while in German "Geh 250 Meter bis zur nächsten Bushaltestelle". Apr 2 at 8:01
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    @planetmaker: Your last example does not really prove something, since singular and plural appear identical in nominative. I also observe dated Ellen as counter-example (5 Ellen Stoff) as well as nach 300 Metern rechts abbiegen.
    – guidot
    Apr 2 at 9:06
  • Your assertion that “Standard German spelling is more common” than “Swiss spelling” makes me raise my eyebrows. You cannot oppose “Standard German” to “Swiss spelling”. Swiss spelling is as much Standard German as Germany German or Austrian spelling. Also, it is not true that non-Swiss spelling is more common. It depends on the location. In Switzerland, it is certainly not the case.
    – mach
    Apr 2 at 9:13
  • that's a good point @guidot. So indeed, essentially it's just that singular and plural nominative are the same, like 'Teller'. Apr 2 at 11:39
  • @planetmaker: "The problem does not solve when switching to metric." - I suspect this was meant rather in the way that once you switch to metric, most commonly used units will be expressed by words that are fairly unambiguously units of measurement and nothing else. As opposed to a "foot". Apr 2 at 16:29

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