"What do you see outside?"

Translation:Miket látsz kint?

August 6, 2016

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If there's no indication in English whether it's singular or plural, shouldn't "Mit látsz kint" be accepted?


Yes, absolutely. Report it if it comes up again for you.


Why not make the sentence correspond to the topic more clearly?


Because the two languages don't correspond "more clearly". Plural interrogative words in Hungarian are definitely worth mentioning, the fact that English doesn't have something like that makes it even more necessary in my opinion. In this case, you have to accept that you are unlikely to encounter an English sentence that hints the use of some Hungarian grammar that doesn't even exist in English - and, in some sense, translations will be one-way only or ambiguous.


Is there anything wrong with Miket kint látsz? If this is unacceptable, what about it is incorrect/unnatural?


The word order. The question word (or question phrase) should always be followed by the verb. (Hocus focus, yadda yadda.)


This is a good rule of thumb but I think it's worth mentioning that there is nothing dogmatic about it and there are legitimate counterexamples.
To show you an extreme one, "Miért nem a korábbi demokrata elnök felesége lett az Egyesült Államok új elnöke?" :) Perfectly legit sentence, 6 words between the interrogative word and the verb.

This is because questions still follow a slightly modified topic - focus - verb - rest structure.
Most of the time, you are asking about a part of speech of a hypothetical declarative sentence: "mi, mikor, hol, milyen" and so on. Therefore, you rearrange importance.
There are other kind of questions as well, though, that don't just extend our knowledge of details about a declarative sentence but start a brand new thought (hence it's tempting to call them "meta questions"). "Why" and "How come" are typical interrogative words/phrases that introduce such a "meta question". In this situation, it can be meaningful to keep the focus of the declarative sentence and put the interrogative word in front of it (as presented in the example) - and you might end up with a topic - interrogative word - focus - verb - rest structure.


Why is 'miket' used and not simply 'mi'?


Mik because we're asking about multiple things that are being seen, and -et because we're asking about the object, what is being seen, not what is seeing.

You can also say "Mit látsz kint?", asking about a single thing, but you can't leave out the objective '-t'.


It could also be "mit látsz kint."


Yes, and it is accepted.


Why can't the verb be last? ("Miket kint látsz?")


Normally, when you ask about a detail, it's the single new and important piece of information for you, therefore it's the focus. Now, "miket" is the word that plays this role. Since the verb follows the focus immediately, the right place for "látsz" is after "miket". "Kint miket látsz?" could be justified if you want to direct attention to "outside" specifically but "Miket kint látsz?" doesn't sound reasonable to me at all.


Thanks for the reminder. Two years at this and I still get all fuzzy about the focus. (If you'll pardon the pun.)


How can we know that what is a plural?

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