"Good postmen do not go to the fence, but to the gate."
Translation:A jó postás nem a kerítéshez megy, hanem a kapuhoz.
A jó postás referes to one worker not more than one, so how can we translate correctly? In English you can say generally also The good postman does not go to the fence, but to the gate... but, if we have it writen in the plural mode, I understand that the translation should be also A postások.... etc, etc. Tks, Sandra
Hungarian is different. :)
The language works a lot with principles, i.e. if you don't care about the actual number of objects, you usually use the singular form. Generalisations like this here sentence are a good example of that. It doesn't just apply to a single postman or a group of them, but for the, so to say, postmanship itself. The idea of the postman.
An example that's easier to comprehend might be "Ez az üzletben van alma." - "There are apples in this shop." You don't care if it's one apple or many, but that the shop contains apples at all.
Most of the generalisations of this course are written in plural. (I remember "A békák kíváncsi állatok.") While it is possible to say it like that, it's actually not all that common. Singular use is much more preferred, if only because it's shorter. "A béka kíváncsi állat" - "The frog is a curious animal."
Hungarian hates plurals.
I used "megy oda." I really don't understand when to use oda with megy and when to leave it out. I thought you used it when the person would be arriving at their destination. In this sentence, it seems that the postal worker would be arriving at the fence or at the gate. So, why couldn't I use oda? Or do I not use oda here because they are not arriving at the fence? But other "not" sentences use oda. The inconsistency really gets to me.
Using oda here would also be alright, but it might translate differently into English.
You're correct with your assessment that verbal prefixes are used when the person would arrive there. More generally, verbal prefixes are used for telic actions, meaning actions that have a specific goal. A classic example is "I'm singing a song". The song will eventually be sung, even if the singing resumes. "I'm singing" is atelic, on the other hand, since it doesn't have such a clear end point.
Now what's with this sentence? If you're talking about a specific postman going to a specific fence, it will be telic. The postman arrives, the fence will be reached, so the prefixed verb is appropriate. But this sentence is intended to be a general statement: "Good postmen" instead of "The good postman". You're talking about general postmen going to general fences, and since there will always be another fence, it's not a (clearly) telic situation anymore. A postman's work is never over.