"Éva is painting men and women."

Translation:Éva férfiakat és nőket fest.

July 8, 2016

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What's wrong with: Éva fest férfiakat és nőket.


Nothing wrong with that. I think that's what they call the "neutral tone sentence".


It sounds a bit like the relation between the objects and the verb is different. Probably because "Éva fest" is a complete sentence on its own, which renders the rest quite negligible. Even though it's not wrong, I can't hear it without thinking of how much we know pretty much nothing about what Éva is painting. :D


Pourquoi pas "Éva férfiakat fest és nőket." ? I seem to recall this form being required for another exercise.


That word order is okay as well. Feel free to report it.


Why not "Férfiakat és nőket Éva fest"? When is the lesson about syntax?? >_<


I think it should be accepted, too. The meaning of your sentence is different, than the original.

"Férfiakat és nőket Éva fest" = ÉVA is painting men and women, not someone else.

"Éva férfiakat és nőket fest" = "Férfiakat és nőket fest Éva" = These sentences emphasize what Éva is painting: men and women.


You are right, it's not invalid but still, odd enough to note. Setting the topic as "men and women" and telling that it's Éva who paints these.
"Syntax" happens to be quite complex which resulted into the following status quo... everyone tries to explain word order everywhere. It's far from optimal but I think one can learn quite a lot by sticking around and reading comments.


When is it not OK to topicalize an object? As noted in a comment below, Férfiakat és nőket Éva fest seems fine, but is this not good because it is emphasizing the object? And why does the correct translation place the verb at the very end of the sentence? Should we default to an Subject-Object-Verb structure when we don't know which word order to use?


I don't think there is any formal rule for this, it seems to be more or less a "use common sense and just try to get used to it" thing. Starting out with the hypothesis that someone is painting men and women specifically, is quite rare. Not technically impossible but still, rare information structure.

Over the time, "ask not where the verb should be, ask where everything else relative to the verb should be" turned into almost a proverb. This is a good approach but it still wouldn't tell you what you should keep in front of the verb and what you shouldn't.
And now, unpopular opinion: there isn't a really straightforward rule for this. That's why you might have come across both SOV and SVO called "neutral" word order. In fact, "neutral" word order isn't an established concept in Hungarian. In relatively simple sentences, the statistically optimal choice should be SOV. Why? Because most verbs have a really close, mandatory or close to mandatory argument - and that argument, as some almost obvious part of the verb, can be safely kept right in front of the verb, without getting strange emphasis.

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