"There are many cars in front of this house."
Translation:Ez előtt a ház előtt sok autó áll.
Your sentence sounds like "There are cars everywhere but many of them are actually in front of THIS HOUSE." "Ez előtt a ház előtt" received a great emphasis, because you placed it in front of the verb. The neutral sentence only states that here is this house and there are many cars in front of it.
A small change to your sentence would make it more neutral, very close to the original:
"Sok autó áll/van ez előtt a ház előtt."
You can use "van", but "áll" is generally used here and in many places, for things/objects that do have a standing position: a tree, a house, a car, a horse, etc.
I feel your pain. :) It comes very naturally to all Hungarians, so there must be some rhyme or reason, but it is not easy to establish a rule without deep analysis. I am just writing here what my instincts tell me. I don't think I could give you proper rules, these are more like guidelines. There are so many varieties. And you can even emphasize the same sentence in several different ways, with very different results. Let's just take one very simple sentence in English:
I am walking home.
You could put a stress on the various words:
I AM walking home - not you!
I am WALKING home - not driving!
I am walking HOME - not to the park!
You can do the same in Hungarian, plus you can move the stressed word closer to the front. There is usually a most neutral order. Subject - verb - etc. If this is mixed up, there is usually a reason. The subject and the verb are usually in some relationsip. They tend to be close to each other. So, if there is something unusual there, a word got stuck between them, that grabs the attention.
Sorry for being so vague but it is really hard to come up with a clear and thorough explanation.
Practice, practice, practice, you will absorb it. And listen to the audio as much as you can. It was recorded with a real person, so the emphasis and intonation is really good. Listen to what is being emphasized and why.
Thanks for such an in-depth answer. I guess this is one of those things that can't be taught directly, but just has to be absorbed through usage. The English way of emphasizing has to do with vocal stress - speaking louder or more emphatically on the words that are important, and which you expressed in writing with capital letters. So that is what I'm used to.
We also do this with word order to some extent, eg:
Now I'm going. I'm going now.
The second sentence emphasizes "now," as opposed to in 30 minutes.
So I understand the principle, but English does this in very simple ways. I think you're right that I just need to keep listening to the vocals, which I agree are excellent. A friend who studied Spanish on Duolingo said that the audio sounded like a robotic computer voice. So we're lucky.
The live voice recordings must have been expensive. Who paid for it, Duolingo? I would like to make a donation, since I'm using the free version, so I haven't contributed anything financially. Do you know who I should ask about that?
You are welcome. I guess everything can be taught, but then it would need to be a more focused, more intensive, systematic approach. Here you can just let it seep into your subconscious.
On Duolingo's inner workings, I have no idea. But it's free for all of us, as far as I know. There is only the free version. You can look up the rest on their website, all the usual stuff (About, Q&A, etc.) is there. :)
As far as I know, Duolingo pays for such recordings, yes.
And I believe there is no official way to donate money - but if you buy official Duolingo gear (there's a "Gear" link at the bottom of every page: http://gear.duolingo.com/ ), Duolingo gets a small portion of the proceedings. So that's a rather inefficient way to donate, but the only one I know of at all.
The course itself is free and there are no ads, so there's no direct way to give money.