Ritkán van itt a vonat. The train is here seldom, not often. A vonat ritkán van itt. Neutral sentence A vonat van itt ritkán. It is the train that is here seldom, not the bus. A vonat ritkán itt van. The train is here, but just seldom. A vonat itt ritkán van. Puts the emphasis on here and seldom, and not on the train. A vonat itt van ritkán. The train is rarely here, but it may be often there in other places.
The word order is killing me already hahaha. Is it ok to translate this literally, which I guess would be: "A vonat van ritkán itt"?
Also, and I apologize for this ridiculous question, but how do native speakers understand each other? Because it looks like you can put words in any order (assuming the case is correct) and it means the same thing.
I'm learning Turkish, and while their word order is different than English, it seems to be regular (the verb is always at the end). Is there a common word order in spoken Hungarian?
Your answers would be greatly appreciated.
The word order depends on what you want to put emphasis on. "A vonat van ritkán itt." would only be correct if someone was specifically asking WHAT is rarely here, but it still sounds weird. You could also say "A vonat ritkán van itt" (this makes more sense). "Itt a vonat ritkán van" is also correct, and puts emphasis on the place you are at.
Yeah, think of it as order of importance. I guess there is a standard, default word order but even that is pretty flexible. It gives nuance to the meaning. But a more significant reorganization of the words can alter the meaning big time.
The role of the suffixes in this is obvious. In English: cat eats dog, dog eats cat, huge difference. The word order is very important. In Hungarian, a macska eszi a kutyát, a kutyát eszi a macska, a kutyát a macska eszi, a macska a kutyát eszi, eszi a kutyát a macska, eszi a macska a kutyát. No matter which way you put it, it is the cat that is doing the eating. So the main meaning remains the same: poor doggie. But the emphasis is very much varied.
I guess the normal order would be subject - verb (or statement) - object - other stuff (adjectives, adverbs, etc.). This is loosely true. Don't take my word for it though.
So, the cat is the subject, the eating is the verb and the dog is the object.
A macska eszi a kutyát - The cat eats the dog.
We can play with the stress to alter the meaning, without changing the word order.
A MACSKA eszi a kutyát. - It is THE CAT that eats the dog, and not the horse.
A macska ESZI a kutyát - The cat EATS the dog, as opposed to playing with it, or even drinking it.
A macska eszi A KUTYÁT - It is the DOG, not the mouse, that the cat eats. Or it can be just a general surprise statement with slight stress on the dog as the unusual food item for a cat.
Playing with the word order:
A macska a kutyát eszi. - There are several animals on the menu, but the cat chose to eat the dog today.
Eszi a macska a kutyát - It is somewhat unusual that a cat would eat a dog, especially considering this cat. They were such good friends. But now the cat is actually eating the dog!
Eszi a kutyát a macska - Hello, the dog is being eaten here, by none other than the cat. How unusual. Somebody please do something!
A kutyát a macska eszi - Today the dog is on the cat's menu. Maybe tomorrow the goat will eat the dog.
A kutyát eszi a macska - Normally the dog would eat the cat, but today the cat eats the dog.
These are, of course, just vague examples, and many many more meanings can be expressed with proper context, tone and emphasis.
Yes, Turkish seems more restrained in the word order but they also use it as an important way of changing the meaning. For example, to make up for the lack of the definite article ("the") that is non-existent in that language. And I'm sensing that this very fact may be a factor in the lesser flexibility of their word order. Just purely on a mathematical basis:
English: the fresh bread - 3 words
Hungarian: a friss kenyér - 3 words
Turkish: taze ekmek - 2 words (no def. article)
Three words have six permutations, two words have only two. And Hungarian is doing a really good job utilizing as many of them as possible. In this particular case, three or four of the six actually make sense. :)
The adventure of a lifetime, of course. :)
The main point to remember here is that, in a Hungarian sentence, the main topic comes first. Kind of like in a question even in English. Then comes the verb and everything else.
This may be too early but check it out if you want: