"We are painting a tree, not an apple."
Translation:Mi egy fát festünk, nem egy almát.
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I think it is about sentence emphasis: generally when you have a sentence where you have two contrasting elements e.g. "Subject verb X, not Y" you have to emphasise X, and in order to do that in Hungarian the word you want to emphasise should come just before the verb i.e "Subject X verb, not Y". I'm not a native speaker but I think your sentence would sound more like "WE paint a tree not an apple", emphasising that it is US painting the tree and not the apple, and not some other person. Can I have a native speaker to back me up?
I can partly back you up. What you are saying about the emphasis, the position and the elements sounds perfect.
But the sentence "Mi festünk egy fát, nem egy almát" sounds logically flawed. Because the "not an apple" is still not part of statement X. We need the element Y. And since there is nothing else in the sentence, "not an apple" becomes element Y. So, the two contrasting elements do not match. The first element is:
- MI festünk egy fát - It is US painting a tree, "US" emphasized. It is us, no one else.
And the second element is:
- nem egy almát - not an apple (in accusative). "Apple" emphasized.
So, is it "mi" (us) or "egy almát" (an apple - accusative)?
That is just a logical nonsense.
Ah. There's something subtle and interesting here which is tricky for us English speakers who are not used to cases to understand. I believe that what you mean when you talk about the logical impossibility is that "mi festunk egy fát, nem egy almát" CANNOT mean "it is US painting a tree, not an apple [that is painting the tree]" under any circumstances. Because if it WERE a very talented apple that was painting the tree, it would not be in the accusative case because it would no longer be the object of the sentence. I think this is correct. If anyone else can confirm this thought process that would be helpful.