"Kik mennek a hídon?"
Translation:Who is walking on the bridge?
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Two months later I realise I have only read half of your question, so I gotta rectify that. Hi again. :)
I meant in the above comment that the naked, prefix-less megy (to go) doesn't give a direction, just like the naked sétál (to walk). But both átmegy (to go over) and átsétál (to walk over) can be used in your example sentence, just with the difference that "Kik mennek át" refers to a general "going across the Chain Bridge", while "Kik sétálnak át" is the more specific "walking across".
Sorry if I confused you somehow.
"Walking" might often translate better into sétál, but that doesn't mean megy translates better into "going" in every context, right? Even though I can't think of a translation which preserves both the meaning and the structure of the Hungarian sentence while sounding correct, we just *don't* use "go" in the manner that the "correct" translation does.
I guess approaching situations like this, where a great translation doesn't exist, is difficult for the course's creators, and it's probably something they've given a lot of thought--and, certainly, seeing an eyesore like "going on the bridge" pushes a student into the discussion section, where she can learn in more detail about the Hungarian word's meaning and usage. That said, it's still pretty unsatisfying to be required to type a "wrong" English sentence as the "right" answer, even if there isn't a better translation.
Járda is a noun that ends on a vowel, so it only gets -n attached to the end (and if the ending vowel is 'a' or 'e', it gets lengthened, as always).
Híd is a back-vowel word. The vowels 'i' and 'í' (and to some extent 'é' and rarely 'e') are a bit more free-for-all. They can be either front- or back-vowel. If there's another vowel with them in the word, those dictate the vowel harmony, like in ihlet - inspiration (front vowel), or tányér - plate (back vowel). But if it's just 'i' or 'í' or 'é', you need to memorise it. Here a few examples:
- víz - water; a vízben - in the water
- bicikli - bicycle; a biciklire - onto the bicycle
- ízlik - to taste; ízleni - (infinitive)
- csíp - to pinch/bite; csípett - it pinched
- ín - sinew; ínek - sinews
- mi - what; miben - in what
- híd - bridge; hidak - bridges
- hív - to call; hívnak - they call
- ír - to write; írok - I write
- iszik - to drink; iszom - I drink
- férfi - man; férfiak - men
- cél - goal; célok - goals
Not necessarily crossing, even though that would be the normal thing you do on a bridge, going from one end to the other. Crossing would usually be expressed by using the verbal prefix át-, as in átmegy, etc.
A slightly closer translation/interpretation of the original sentence would be "Who is moving on the bridge?"
And still, in English "who" and "what", used as an interrogative subject, are generally singular, even if you'd expect a plural answer: "Who does this?" "What is happening?" "Who was caught?"
The only times where it diverts from that pattern is in copula sentences. In those cases "who" and "what" appear to become the object while the other entity is the subject, e.g. "Who am I?", where the verb takes the conjugation of "I".
Also as a relative pronoun it doesn't necessarily need to be singular anymore if the associated noun in the main clause is plural, e.g. "The women who have seen it..."
It's surprisingly hard to find dictionary sources with that because it doesn't seem like a mistake natives would readily do, but according to this language forum entry there seems to be an remark on it in Michael Swan's "Practical English Usage", so you can ask vvsey about it. They have that book. Here's the quote from the forum, it's a little buried in there:
According to Michael Swan "Practical English usage, Oxford 1995" when 'who' and 'what' are used to ask for the subject of a clause (as in this case), they most often have singular verbs, even if the question expects a plural answer.
- The girls are playing outside. - Who is playing outside?
- John and Phyllis (they) are going to the theatre. - Who is going to the theatre?
When "who" and 'what' are used to ask for the complement of a clause, they can have plural verbs.
- Tom and Susan are my best friends. - Who are your best friends?
- Alex and Mary are my grandparents. - Who are your grandparents?
Nab, I'd rather call them "neutral". The vowels 'i' and 'í', and to some extent 'é' and rarely 'e', can appear in both front- and back-vowel words and do not influence the vowel class. If the only vowels in your word are 'i', 'í' and 'é', you'll have to memorise which vowel harmoy it takes:
- híd - hídak (bridge)
- hír - hírek (news)
- iszik - én iszom (to drink)
- illik - én illem (to fit)
- cél - célok (goal)
- szél - szélek (edge)