It is an interesting question. "Asztalhoz ülni", without "az" has an implied meaning of sitting down to a meal. "Üljünk asztalhoz", (let's sit to (the) table) means "food is ready and served, let's go sit at the table and eat". With the "az" it can be any table, for any purpose.
I can think of something similar in English, with "go to bed", meaning going to sleep, and "go to the bed", that could be just walking over to the bed.
But the Hungarian sentence explicitly talks about movement towards! -hoz is a movement suffix (allative case), not a location suffix (adessve or superessive etc.).
It's a bit hard to convey the effect of a verb such as "sit" or "stand" together with a movement suffix in English.
What wording would you recommend? Something that combines "movement to" and an indication that after the movement, you are sitting. "go over to the table and sit down at it" is a bit long.
Maybe we should focus on those sentences that make sense in both languages and can be easily/simply translated. Let's teach the basics, the most useful expressions and maybe years later we could add some spicy Hungarian sentences for the advanced students. These poor English translations will discourage even the most dedicated ones.
I now see the problem and didnt before. I think that if you have to translate the hungarian idea of movement to then to go over to the table is the only way. Without any helpful notes on the app hungarian ideas are just not expressed. It would be helpful and these discussions clarify that. However in the end you need a good translation in english too. Duolingo in hungarian as it is just such a complex, but very interesting language , just cant do that in this format I dont think. But I thank the volunteers for their effort. I think it was a mistake to put hungarian on the app because it is so complex and its ideas need to be explained.
If you ask any native English speaker (which I am) what the sentence - "The children are sitting down at the table" means, they will tell you it means - The children are ALREADY AT the table and ARE SITTING (because of the use of "are"). There is NO motion to the table, nor is there ANY motion to sit down. They are already there and sitting. In my (humble) opinion, the English translation should be - " The children are going to sit down at the table" This implies they are/will be motioning towards the table and then proceed to sit. I understand Hungarian has a different way describing actions and motion, but for a native English speaker to learn more clearly and easily, the English translation should correctly match the Hungarian sentence.
As a fellow English speaker, I cannot agree. The English version can, as you state, indicate a state of being - that the children are already seated at the table, but it can also indicate that they are actively in the process of sitting down at the table. As this is the situation being used for the lesson, it is correct.
Your suggestion for the replacement using "will be" would require, in the Hungarian, that the verb "fog" be used:
"A gyerekek az asztalhoz fognak ülni."
Steven, I stand corrected. It can mean both as you state, "seated at the table or actively in the process of sitting down at the table. However, in both cases, the children are AT the table, not going to the table to sit down. The Duolingo Hints/Comments for Allative case are as follows: "The allative is another movement case, expressing movement to something. In English, it can be translated with to" So, asztalhoz means "to the table".
But, as I have seen in a few other cases where sitting or standing has been used in Allative case, in Hungarian they seem to use sitting/standing to where we would say sitting or standing at/by (Adessive case).
Two problems with this. First, "asztalhoz ül" is an idiomatic expression, meaning "to sit down at the table", mostly for food reasons.
Second, your sentence structure. If you want to keep leülnek like that, it's in the focus position. But the focus should be the first or second item of the sentence. Generally, if the focus is the second item, the first item is the topic, so in the sentence you wrote "a gyerekek asztalhoz" forms a single topical unit, which doesn't make a lot of sense in this case. It sounds kinda like "The to-a-table children sit down". Just confusing.
Plus, subjects and objects that don't have an article want to be in the focus position.
Better is to either move the verb: "A gyerekek leülnek egy/az asztalhoz." Or to split the prefix off, so the table is in focus: "A gyerekek asztalhoz ülnek le."
But the given translation is the most natural one.
Ok, thanks for a thorough explanation. I always understood the topic as something like "When it comes to the children at the table...", although I see how impractical and unnatural would it be translation-wise. I have a feeling that what this course needs is a really comprehensive lesson on the whole topic-focus stuff.
Well, as I understand it (not a native!), you could do it like that, but in this case it would be mighty confusing. You'd need to do a little change to the sentence: "A gyerekek az asztalhoz", which would mean something like "pertaining the children that move to the table". Still confusing, though, so I would avoid it. :)
"At the table" would be "az asztalnál".
Why is it translated as "the children are sitting down at the table" when the sentence has "asztalhoz?" I understood this as 'the kids to the table are sitting down,' which isn't really a useful translation. Also, sidebar, but duolingo really should accept 'kids' as a translation instead of just 'children.'
There's not even a certain table here. It's just asztalhoz and not "az asztalhoz". Asztalhoz and ül are forming a unit here, kind of "The children are to-table sitting."
It's kind of idiomatic in both languages. The children are going to the table and sit down there, most likely to eat. For why it's "at the table" when the Hungarian sentence says -hoz: that's because English puts a weird restriction on itself. It cannot make sense of verbs that don't include movement (sit, stand, lie) and prepositions indicating direction (into, to, ...)
The suffix -nál/-nél indicates that something is located at the "outer surface" or the close vicinity of some object. In English you'd use "at" or "by" something.
The suffix -hoz/-hez/-höz indicates a movement to that location. So in this sentence, the children are moving asztalhoz, "to the table", and at the end they'll be sitting asztalnál, "at the table". It's just that "to the table" doesn't work well with "to sit down" in English.