Internet Connection (non-)existent

Hi there!

Right now I have an Internet connection, but it’s been up and down lately. Something wrong with my computer. If I don’t reply to something, that’s why. Sorry about it. I’ll do my best.🙂

Published in: on October 24, 2016 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Omitting Pronouns in (In)Definite Conjugation

In English you always need to use any pronoun (direct, indirect, demonstrative…) irregardless of whether the verb refers to an indefinite or definite object/person.

I’m writing a letter. I’m writing the letter.

The object is ’letter’ and our verb ’write’ is the same in both sentences. The indefiniteness and definiteness of ’letter’ are expressed with the indefinite and definite articles ’a, the’. Here’s the Hungarian translation:

I’m writing a letter. – Írok egy levelet.
I’m writing the letter. – Írom a levelet.

As you can see, the Hungarian verb ’ír-write’ has two different conjugations. The indefinite conjugation requires the -ok suffix in 1st person singular present tense, whereas the definite conjugation in the same person/number/tense is formed with the -om suffix. The indefinite and definite articles are used accordingly.

So far so good. But what if we get a question like ’Are you writing a/the letter’? How do you answer that question?

Are you writing a letter? – Yes, I’m writing it.
Írsz egy levelet? – Igen, azt írok.

Are you writing the letter? – Yes, I’m writing it.
Írod a levelet? – Igen, azt írom.

The pronoun ’it’ refers back to ’a letter’ and ’the letter’. In the same way, the Hungarian demonstrative pronoun ’az’ turns into an accusative pronoun ’azt’ to refer back to ’egy levelet’ and ’a levelet’.
And that’s when omitting pronouns becomes relevant. In everyday language, we do tend to ”forget” saying certain pronouns when the context is clear and we know for sure what we are talking about. So the above-mentioned answers can be turned into:

Igen, írok. Igen, írom.

It is more common, though, that we leave out pronouns when the verbs are in definite conjugation. Since the definite conjugation already refers to the object, there is no confusion about the context. Let’s see more examples with other pronouns, too. So that you know what I omit, I’ll parenthesize the pronouns. It is also evident from the examples that English has to use those pronouns.

-Látod a lányt? – Igen, látom (őt).
-Can you see the girl? – Yes, I can see her.

-Akarjátok az új ruhákat vagy sem? – Nem, nem akarjuk (azokat).
-Do you want the new clothes or not? – No, we don’t want them.

The problem starts when there seems to be no context like in this question:

-Látod? – Can you see it?

We translate it with ’can you see it’ because ’látod’ is obviously in definite conjugation. The speaker knows exactly what he sees and that’s why he’s asking ’Látod?’.

-Látod? – Can you see it?
-Semmit nem látok. Te mit látsz? – I can’t see anything. What can you see?
-A boltot. – The shop.
-Igen, már látom. – Yes, I can see it now.

The other person answers ’nem látok’ in indefinite conjugation because he cannot see anything. And ’anything/nothing’ is something indefinite. So is ’something’, by the way🙂. Then he asks ’mit látsz’ in indefinite conjugation because he still cannot see anything. Finally, the speaker clarifies ’boltot’. So the other person answers ’látom’ in definite conjugation. Now he knows exactly what he sees. It does not matter if the answer is affirmative or negative. The same rules apply.

That’s why you give such answers:

-Nem értek semmit. -Az egyenletet így kell megoldani. Már érted? -Igen, értem.
-I don’t understand anything. -The equation has to be solved like this. Do you understand now? -Yes, I understand (it).

This is a good example for native English speakers because as you see the verb ’understand’ does not require ’it’ when you answer. Yet you know exactly what you understand.

-Érted? – Do you understand?
-Értem. – I understand.

Let’s take a look at more examples:

-A bank elveszi a házadat. – Nem hagyom.
-The bank is going to take your house. – I’m not going to let (it happen).

-Tessék a visszajáró! – Köszönöm.
-Here’s your change. – Thank you.

The verb ’köszön’ has two meanings ’to say thank you’ and ’to greet’. If it means ’to say thank you’, it is transitive, so Hungarian people thank something, and not thank for something. On the other hand, if you greet someone, it is transitive in English, but it requires an indirect object in Hungarian. Actually, we say ’greet to someone = köszön valakinek’.

-Köszönöm a visszajárót! – Köszöntem önnek, amikor bejöttem? – Igen, ön mindig köszön nekem.
-Thank you for the change. – Did I greet you when I entered? – Yes, you always greet me.

The difficulty also lies in the different use of verbs in English and Hungarian. A verb that is transitive in English might be intransitive in Hungarian and viceversa. In the above-mentioned sentence you can’t use ’köszön’ in definite conjugation because it is not transitive. It cannot require an object.
Let’s contrast indefinite and definite conjugation with ’ért’.

-Érted? – Mindent értek.
-Do you understand? – I understand everything.

’Minden’ is indefinite or general, so ’értek’ is in indefinite conjugation.

PROBLEMS WITH ACCUSATIVE PRONOUNS

As languages do not consist of rules that always make sense, we have to be prepared to learn odd things. That is the case with accusative pronouns if you conjugate verbs in definite mode. To make this problem tangible, I’ll use the accusative pronouns ’őt’ and ’engem’.

Látom őt. – I can see him.
Látod őt. – You can see him.
Látja őt. – He can see him.
Látjuk őt. – We can see him.
Látjátok őt. – You can see him.
Látják őt. – They can see him.

’Lát’ is in definite conjugation in every number/person. But what if we use ’engem’?

Lát engem. – He can see me.
Lát téged. – He can see you.
Látja őt. – He can see him.
Lát minket. – He can see us.
Lát titeket. – He can see you.
Látja őket. – He can see them.

’Lát’ is used in definite conjugation only when referring to the accusative pronoun in 3rd person singular and 3rd person plural. In any other number/person (engem, téged, minket, titeket) ’lát’ is in indefinite conjugation.

This goes for ’őt, őket, önt, önöket, maga, magát’. That is, for polite forms, too.

If there is an accusative pronoun, one would think it is definite. Well, it’s no use asking why it is that way. It just is. I couldn’t find any explanation why this phenomenon had developed the way it is. Something for you to struggle with🙂. So let’s ask more questions and give the right answers.

-Érted a szabályt? – Igen, értem (azt).
-Do you understand the rule? – Yes, I understand (it).

-Érted őket? – Igen, értem (őket).
-Do you understand them? – Yes, I understand them.

-Értesz engem? – Igen, értelek (téged).
-Do you understand me? -Yes, I understand you.

-Látjátok őket? – Nem, nem látjuk (őket).
-Can you guys see them? – No, we can’t see them.

-Látnak minket? – Nem, nem látnak (minket). Önt viszont látják.
-Can they see us? – No, they can’t see us. However, they can see you, sir.

Published in: on March 5, 2016 at 12:09 pm  Comments (4)  

Not going to be here

Hi everyone,

Sorry for not keeping my promise. I told you I’d write more and I didn’t. Excuses are not my cup of tea, so all I say is that work didn’t quite let me dispose of my time as I wanted.

I’m going to the UK for a couple of month. I don’t know how much time I will have over there, so this time I don’t promise anything.

If you continue liking this blog, then for you, apparently, learning Hungarian is a fun thing and I owe you a big ‘thank you’ for that.🙂

That’s all for now.

 

Best wishes to all

László

Published in: on September 7, 2015 at 10:16 am  Comments (7)  

Suffixing Ez and Az

As the wordpress editor doesn’t want to keep the way I formatted this document, I uploaded it for you.

hunlangwordpress_suffixingezandaz

Published in: on February 8, 2015 at 1:07 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags:

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Published in: on December 31, 2014 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  

It’s Santa’s Time Once Again

Hi, everyone!

I know I neglected the blog a little bit due to time issues. I want to change that next year and I hope you’ll still be with me.

Despite all that, thank you very much for visiting and following my blog.

Hoping that the year 2015 will be at least as good as 2014,

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

wp_fa_kicsi

Published in: on December 24, 2014 at 9:33 am  Comments (3)  

Answering to a reader’s questions (coverbs and tenses)

NY_blog_answer_tensesandcoverbs

I had to upload it as a doc file because WordPress doesn’t keep the format of the text for some reason.

 

Published in: on July 1, 2014 at 11:03 am  Comments (2)  

Problems with Verbal Prefixes (or Coverbs)

GOOD ADVICE IN ADVANCE: knowing when to choose a verbal prefix and which to choose requires a knowledge of the shades of meanings Hungarian verbs can have.

1. In the present tense verbal prefixes (coverbs) can add shades to the verb. These shades can be direction and perfectivity in the future.

NOTE! The general rule is that Hungarian verbs without verbal prefixes have a continous aspect in any tense and mode.

– DIRECTION:

Megyek a pincébe. <> Lemegyek a pincébe.
I’m going to the cellar. <> I’m going down to the cellar.

Sétálunk a parkban. <> Kisétálunk a parkba.
We’re walking in the park. <> We’re walking out to the park.

Ugrál az ágyon. <> Felugrál az ágyra.
He’s jumping on the bed. <> He keeps jumping up to the bed.

– PERFECTIVITY IN THE FUTURE:

a)

Megyek a boltba. <> Elmegyek a boltba.
I’m going to the shop. <> I’m going to the shop./I’ll go to the shop.

Megyek a boltba expresses a continous aspect. I’m going to the shop right now as I’m talking. Elmegyek a boltba refers to the direction el-away because the shop is farther away from where I am now and to the perfectivity in the future because I expressed the wish of going to the shop. That’s where I will be sometime in the future. It can also express a promise (I’ll go).

Elmegyek a boltba > és mikor befejeztem az odamenetelt, vagyis megérkeztem, ott leszek.
I’m going to the shop > and when I stopped going to that place, that is I have arrived, I will be there.

You see there is no equivalent of the verbal prefix el in the English sentence because it simply expresses completion and in this case it does not have the meaning equivalent to away.

As you can see, if verbal prefixes indicating a direction are attached to verbs expressing motion, the indication of direction is implied even though the point is perfecitivity.

b)

Nézem a műsort. <> Megnézem a műsort.
I’m watching the show. <> I’ll watch the show.

Nézem a műsort expresses a continous aspect. I’m watching the show right now as I’m talking. Megnézem a műsort cannot refer to any direction as watching something has no direction. That’s why meg- is used and not el-. It definitely refers to the future because as you can see the English sentence changed, too. Hungarian uses present tense with the aspect of completion expressed by meg-, which is expressed in English by Simple Future Tense (I’ll watch).

2. What happens to this phenomenon in the past tense?

Well, it is clearer because the Hungarian past tense can only refer to the past tense (in contrast with the present tense with the sense of future actions). That is proved by the English sentences, too.

a)

Mentem a boltba. <> Elmentem a boltba.
I was going to the shop. <> I went to the shop.

Mentem a boltba expresses a continous aspect. I was going to the shop right at the moment as Iwas talking. Elmentem a boltba refers to the direction el-away because the shop was farther away from where I was then and to the perfectivity in the past because I stated the fact that I went to the shop. That’s where I was in the past. An action that happened once: I went to the shop and I was there. End of story.

b)

Néztem a műsort. <> Megnéztem a műsort.
I was watching the show. <> I watched the show.

Néztem a műsort expresses a continous aspect. I was watching the show right at the moment as I was talking. Megnéztem a műsort cannot refer to any direction as watching something has no direction. That’s why meg- is used and not el-. It definitely refers to the past because as you can see the English sentence changed, too. Hungarian uses past tense with the aspect of completion expressed by meg-, which is expressed in English by Simple Past Tense (I watched).

3. Generally speaking, any verbal prefix can be used to express completion if a certain direction is implied.

a)

Jövök a kirándulásról. <> Visszajövök a kirándulásról.
I’m coming from the excursion. <> I’m coming back/I’ll come back from the excursion.
Jöttem a kirándulásról. <> Visszajöttem a kirándulásról.
I was coming from the excursion. <> I came back from the excursion.

Mutatjuk a grafikont. <> mutatunk a grafikonra.
We’re showing the diagram. <> We’re pointing at the diagram.
Mutattuk a grafikont. <> mutattunk a grafikonra.
We were showing the diagram. <> We pointed at the diagram.

True enough, Rámutattunk a grafikonra can also mean We were pointing at the diagram as Hungarian does not have specifically a different time for continuous past tense. In this case it is the context that matters.

Rámutattunk a grafikonra és mindenki odanézett.
We pointed at the diagram and all looked at it.

Rámutattunk a grafikonra, miközben mindenki odanézett.
We were pointing at the diagram while all were looking at it.

And that’s where there can be a little bit more confusion because rámutattunk indicates a direction and completion at the same time. The form megmutat exist just as well, with no sense of direction. Let’s see the difference:

Mutattuk a grafikont. – We were showing the diagram.
Megmutattuk a grafikont. – We showed the diagram.
Rámutattunk a grafikonra. – We pointed at the diagram.

Not only a different verbal prefix, but a different meaning, too. That different meaning can be seen in English as it uses a different verb for it (point and not show). Plus, the English preposition at expresses the Hungarian rá- requiring the postposition -ra meaning onto. Literally: We pointed at onto the diagram.

b) Verbs that don’t express motion take meg-, el-. Despite the fact that el- means away, it has a neutral meaning of completion just like meg-. It is also a question of memorizing such verbs.

Verbs with no aspect of motion:

Megláttam a lányt az utcán. – I noticed the girl in the street.
Megérezte, hogy baj lesz. – He had a feeling that there would be trouble.
Megköszönték a vendéglátást. – They said thank you for the hospitality.

Elkezdett hadarni. – She started jabbering.
Elmondtuk, hogyan történt. – We told how it had happened.
Elvégeztem a feladatot. – I finished/completed the task.

c) There are verbs with no aspect of motion that can have both meg- and el- for expressing completion with apparently no change in the meaning.

Elmondtuk, hogyan történt. – We told how it has happened.
Megmondtuk, mit tegyél. – We told you what to do.

Elkezdtem írni. – I started writing.
Megkezdtem az írást. – I started writing.
>In this case both sentences mean the same, but take a different part of speech (first verb, second noun). The first sentence is used in 99% of the cases.

Sometimes it is a matter of choosing like above, other times it is about an idiomatic expression.

Megmondtuk az igazat. – We told the truth. (a while ago)

4. What if we separate the verbal prefix from the verb and make it follow the verb?

Let’s see an example:

Megyek a padlásra. – I’m going to the attic.
Felmegyek a padlásra. – I’m going up to the attic./I’ll go up to the attic.
Megyek fel a padlásra. – I’m going up the the attic.

So what’s the difference between Megyek a padlásra and Megyek fel a padlásra? The fundamental rule of continuity is definitely there. Verbs with no verbal prefixes have a continuous aspect. So why then Megyek fel is continuous? Because it is more the emphatic sense the speaker wants to express then a grammatical rule.

An example for present tense whe the action is more important:

-Mit csináltok? –Sétálunk ki a piacra.
-What are you doing? -We’re walking (out) to the market
-Azt hittem, kocsival mentek. -Nem. Mondom, hogy sétálunk ki a piacra.
-I thought you’d go by car. -No. I’m telling you we’re walking to the market.

Sometimes Hungarian uses present tense to tell a story that happened in the past.You can use this when you think the action is really important. Watch this:

“Úgy döntöttem, hogy szombaton rendet teszek a padláson. Végül is semmi dolgom nem volt. A pincét is ki kellett volna takarítani, de ahhoz két hétvége sem lenne elég. Na mindegy. Megyek fel a padlásra, amikor zajt hallok fentről. Kinyitom a padlásajtót. Hát nem egy rusnya macska rohangál fent!”

Here’s the translation:

“I decided to tidy the attic up on Saturday. After all, I had nothing to do. The cellar should’ve been done, too, but even two weekends wouldn’t be enough for that. Whatever. I’m going up to the attic when I hear some noise. I open the attic door. And, of course, it is an ugly cat running around up there!”

The speaker wanted to put emphasis on the action as he/she was going up to the attic. Some more examples:

Indulok ki a garázsból, amikor elém áll a szomszéd és…
I’m about to leave the garage when the neighbour stands in front of me and…

Mondom neki, hogy hallgasson, de ő csak kiabál vissza nekem.
I keep telling him to be quiet, but all he’s doing is shouting back to me.

Egy csomó autó várt a zöld lámpára, a pasas meg csak fordul be a kereszteződésbe.
There were lots of cars waiting for the green light, but the guy just keeps turning in the junction.

5. Change in the meaning.

Verbs with no aspect of motion can still be given a direction. The meaning may change or not. It is a matter of memorization.

A fiú virágot ad a lánynak.
The boy gives a flower to the girl.

A fiú odaadja a virágot a lánynak.
The boy gives the flower to the girl.
>It means the same, but oda- emphasizes the direction (to the girl).

A lány visszaadja a virágot.
The girl gives the flower back.

A fiú feladja.
The boy gives up.

Verbs with an aspect of motion can be given a direction, too. The meaning may change or not. It is a matter of memorization.

A fiú fut a lányhoz.
The boy is running to the girl.

A fiú odafut a lányhoz.
The boy is running up to the girl.

A lány elfut a fiútól és befut a házba.
The girl is running away from the boy and is running in the house.

A lány összefut egy másik fiúval a házban.
The girl runs into another boy in the house.

A lány visszafut, ahol még várja az első fiú.
The girl is running back where the first boy is still waiting for her.

A lány átfut a hídon, de a másik oldalon is mindenhol fiúkat lát.
The girl is running over the bridge, but all she can see on the other side is boys.

A lány már össze-vissza/oda-vissza fut az üldözői elől.
The girl is now running around/back and forth from her pursuers.

6. Everyday conversation.

– Hoznál tejfölt? (-Would you bring some sour cream?)
– Igen, hoznék. (-Yes, I would.)
– Akkor menj el a boltba. (-Then go to the shop.)

A fiú felöltözött és kilépett az ajtón, amikor visszakiabált:
(The boy put on his clothes and stepped outside when he shouted back:)

– Mentem! (-I’m gone.)

You don’t see elmentem. Because both members of this conversation knew the context. Obviously, the boy didn’t want to talk about the continuity while he was going somewhere.

Of course, the correct way of saying is Elmentem! It is just a quick note for you to be aware of this, too.

After all, everyday language doesn’t abide by the grammar book. Just think of writing on a piece of paper GONE SHOPPING. It has quite the same feeling.

Published in: on April 5, 2014 at 10:27 am  Comments (4)  

The ambiguity of the definite conjugation

The advantage the definite conjugation guarantees us, that is concision and short phraseology, is the disadvantage at the same time.

Here we have a simple dialogue:

-Látod? -Igen, látom.
-Can you see it? -Yes, I can see it.

With no context, it is not possible to tell what we refer to. It is because the definite form ’látom’ can refer to the following:

Látom azt
azokat
őt
őket
magát
magukat
önt
önöket
I can see it
those
him/her
them
you-sing. polite
you-plur. polite
you-sing. polite
you-plur. polite

So who or what exactly do we refer to in the dialogue? The answer is: we don’t know until we give it a context. That is why I translated ’látod’ and ’látom’ with the pronoun ’it’. In Hungarian there is no distinction between genders. That can cause problems when you have to translate sentences without any context.

In excercises for Hungarian students references are given: Látom őt. – I can see ____ (girl). That is how the students know that they have to write the pronoun ’her’.

Now back to our example. We need a context.

-Nézd! Ott van egy csinos lány. Látod? -Igen, látom.
-Look. There’s a pretty girl over there. Can you see her? -Yes, I can see her.

Here I’ll enumerate the possibilities for you with ’lát-see’ in definite conjugation:

Látom azt, azokat
őt, őket
magát, magukat
önt, önöket
magamat
magunkat
I can see it, those
him/her, them
you (polite)
you (polite)
myself
ourselves
Látod azt, azokat
őt, őket
magadat
magatokat
You can see it, those
him/her, them
yourself
yourselves
Látja azt, azokat
őt, őket
magát, magukat
önt, önöket
magát
magukat
He can see
She can see
it, those
him/her, them
you (polite)
you (polite)
him/herself
themselves
Látjuk azt, azokat
őt, őket
magát, magukat
önt, önöket
magunkat
We can see it, those
him/her, them
you (polite)
you (polite)
ourselves
Látjátok azt, azokat
őt, őket
magatokat
You can see it, those
him/her, them
yourselves
Látják azt, azokat
őt, őket
magát, magukat
önt, önöket
magukat
They can see it, those
him/her, them
you (polite)
you (polite)
themselves

As you can see, I wrote ’magát, magukat’ twice where it is possible because these pronouns are different in English. In Hungarian they can be personal pronouns expressing politeness. In this case they are equivalent to ’you, sir/madam…’. They can also be reflexive pronouns meaning …self (himself, themselves…).

Published in: on February 16, 2014 at 12:17 pm  Comments (5)  

2013 in Review by Helper-Monkeys

Helper-monkeys were busy this year, too. Here’s what they found out about you and my blog:

https://hunlang.wordpress.com/2013/annual-report/

 

Published in: on January 1, 2014 at 11:26 am  Leave a Comment