"What buildings are tall?"

Translation:Milyen épületek magasak?

July 30, 2016

This discussion is locked.


I think "what" isn't the best translation for "milyen". I understood the English sentence to mean "melyik épületek magasak?". But I'd like to get a second opinion before reporting anything...


I agree; I translated the sentence the same way ("melyik"). In English, "what" is often used the same as "which." For "milyen," I'd use "What kind of" or "What type of" in English.


A fascinating sentence. Strictly speaking, the best translation is: "What kinds of buildings are tall?". Both the 'kinds' and the 'buildings' should agree for number.

However, there are a few things to unpack here.

A. "What kindS of buildingS are tall?" doesn't sound particularly great to the native English ear. We would much more commonly pluralise either 'kind' or 'building', but not both. So, "What kindS of building are tall?" or "What kind of buildingS are tall?" These phrases, strictly speaking, mean different things, but you would sort out which you meant in a follow up question or two. Or the context would make it clear. Why do English people drop one of the 's' endings? Possibly just because the English mouth finds it tricky to say the repeated 's' on the ends of the words...it just feels awkward.

B. The English translation has multiple possible implied answers, depending on whether you stress kinds or buildings in speech. In Hungarian, the word order might vary to indicate which of these is being referred to but this is not so easy in English. We could say in English "What building kinds are tall?" to emphasise that we are referring to buildings (as opposed to radio antennae, for instance). However, for the level of detail on Duolingo, at this stage of the Hungarian course, this would be a little too advanced and subtle to worry about!

C. Variants of meaning in the English translation may occur because 'kind/s of' can also mean 'sort/s of' or 'type/s of', depending on the context. In a sentence like this out of context, it is difficult to tell which is required here.

D. 'What buildings are tall?', which is given here as the ideal translation, is a "lazy" variant of the ideal translation in which the phrase 'kinds of' is implied. So it should probably be accepted, even though it's colloquial. Once the course is out of beta, this can be corrected.

E. 'Which kind/s of building/s are tall?" is another colloquial variant which probably ought to be accepted in English. 'Which' and 'What' are somewhat interchangeable in English in a way in which they are not in Hungarian to the same extent. So it would be wrong to penalise this translation too heavily.

F. Tall/high... Tall is better, but high is used in a more informal way

So there are quite a few different variants of the sentence when translated into English all of which are, pretty close to correct, depending on the context. Given that the course at this level is not set up to deal with quite this level of subtlety, the acceptable variants should be set up to ensure there is not excessive penalisation of users and most of these variants should now be accepted as correct translations. The important bit is that the plurality of the buildings is referred to in the translation as it is definitely plural buildings in the Hungarian! Even if, colloquially, English produces the plural in a variety of ways...

Finally, these are three variants which are definitely NOT correct translations:

Incorrect 1. "What kinds of building IS tall?". This is incorrect because the plural 'kindS' in this sentence is the word that must agree with the verb. Therefore the verb 'are' in English must agree in number with the plural 'kinds'. Or, in the case where we assume the speaker is being colloquial and that they meant 'kinds of buildingS'. Then we still need 'are' in the English as we are referring to more than one building.

Incorrect 2. "What kind of building is tall?" The original Hungarian implies multiple buildings, therefore an English translation referring to only one kind of building is not correct.

Incorrect 3. "What are tall buildings like?" The Hungarian will need a verb here to render this meaning correctly. So this is just not a correct translation. If someone else would like to give the best translation here for how to render this sentence, that would be awesome and interesting.


for your Incorrect 3 point:

"What are tall buildings like?" = Milyenek a magas épületek?

No verb needed here, but still, it is a different sentence structure.

Learn Hungarian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.