What does "sit at a computer" mean? Does it mean she is sitting in a position facing the computer?
It defines who is going to be seated. If it would be possible, the english word-to-word translation was "she sits herself"
I do not think this is English.
That said, "She sits down in front of a computer" has been accepted.
"sich setzen" is the progress, i.e. "sit down". "sitzen" is the final thing, basically "sitting".
Ok, so then the English translation is not great as it implies that she is already seated
It doesn't imply that she is already seated. It CAN mean that she is already seated, but the English is ambiguous. You need context.
English "sitting down" (as opposed to just "sitting") describes the process, it does not imply that she is already seated.
Are you sure? What about: “Are you sitting down? I have some bad news to tell you.” This implies you are already sitting. On first reading I took the meaning to be she was already sitting down at the computer not that she was in the process of sitting down. It was only when I saw the discussion thread that I realised the German translation means she is in the process of sitting down. How long would it take someone to sit down? What about: Is she sitting up? That is asking if she is sitting (seated) up as opposed to lying down. Is she lying down? That means she is lying down already, not in the process of lying down. Anyway that is my understanding of the English, obviously open to correction and new learning.
(FWIW, I agree with you that many Americans are clueless about how to use "lie" vs. "lay".)
I have to respond to myself zirkul because the thread has run out. Thank you for the link. I am still not convinced though. She sits down is clear. It is a process. She is sitting down is open to interpretation and whilst I can see the grammatical sense of what you are saying, I think that maybe English usage has developed in this instance to include the state of being seated. I haven’t got the ability to explain what I mean, however I will read up on it and get back to you at some stage! Maybe the English and German way of saying it with reflexive verbs are closer than we think. For example, she is sitting herself down is very clear. She is in the process of sitting down. She is sitting down, however, I would still suggest can mean she has sat down and is now sitting. As a matter of interest, what is your view of “She is lying down”? Are you suggesting that this means that she is in the process of lying down? So if she is already lying down you would say “She is lying?
She is sitting down, however, I would still suggest can mean she has sat down and is now sitting.
Not to me. If the Oxford dictionary link was not sufficient, here is the entry from the Cambridge dictionary And in any case, I do not find any difference between "sitting down" and "sitting herself down" except "herself" is kind of redundant here.
As for "lying down" - it can mean both (and by the way, "lying herself down" is not even an option since "to lie" is intransitive - you lay things instead)
No, there is nothing incorrect about using "is sitting down" here.
Would you mind to provide some reference supporting your point of view? I've provided two, and they seem to disagree with your take. Once again, we are discussing the phrasal verb "to sit down" (in any of its forms), not "to sit" by itself.
It might well be acceptable in some non-standard dialects, just like an inordinate number of American speakers are convinced that "Lay down" (as a request to lie down) is valid English, except not a single dictionary, American or otherwise concurs with them.
Thanks, point taken. That's not how I would use it, but nonetheless.
"She sits herself at a computer," is perfectly acceptable English and should be accepted.
Yes it is. You won’t hear it very often though. But perfectly good English nonetheless.