"Snakes, frogs, lizards and insects crawl off the curtain."
Translation:A függönyről kígyók, békák, gyíkok és rovarok másznak le.
The insects are in focus here, and this sentence wouldn't sound good with the prefix attached. Someday I'll be able to explain it.
You already did: "A majom beugrik a folyóba."
But it's not just about emphasis, it's also how Hungarian makes a verb continuous by putting "emphasis" on different parts of the verb to change its tense, either on the base verb (másznak) for continuity, or on the preverb (le) for completion; and by "emphasis" I mean moving one part of the verb before the other part.
- "Ahogy a macska mászott le a lépcsőn, az egér lekapcsolta a lámpát." = As the cat was climbing down the stairs, the mouse switched the lights off.
- "Ahogy a macska lemászott a lépcsőn, az egér lekapcsolta a lámpát." = As the cat climbed down the stairs, the mouse switched the lights off.
Verbs that don't have a preverb more often have a continuous meaning than not. This is why Hungarian adds the el- preverb so often to emphasize the "complete" meaning of the verb in a sentence.
* * *
One more thing I might add: You must split the verb if the subject is a common noun and has no – definite or indefinite – article.
These are all okay:
- "A macska mászik le…"
- "A macska lemászik…"
- "A macskák másznak le…"
- "A macskák lemásznak…"
- "Egy macska mászik le…"
- "Egy macska lemászik…"
- "Két macska mászik le…"
- "Két macska lemászik…"
- "Macskák másznak le…"
This is not okay:
- "Macskák lemásznak…"
I can't explain why, but I'd never say this last one; not unless maybe I intend to give my sentence an imperative meaning without actually using imperative mood: "Cats climb down! Now‼"
For the same reason, "kígyók, békák, gyíkok és rovarok lemásznak" (without articles), to my ears, sounds downright wrong.
Thank you for the elaborate reply. :D
This last part was what I was trying to get at. Unless it's an entirely new concept, I suspect it has something to do with emphasis, too. There is something special about the insects (or the cats) if they don't get an article. But I can't really put my finger on it. vvsey has mentioned that rule here, too.
Also, quiet approval for my monkey sentence, yay~
Thank you for your wonderful elucidation! Perhaps you could help a bit more: From the English sentence, I have a difficult time establishing emphasis (and continuity). Are there any clues you know of. I could successfully translate this sentence from Hungarian to English, but the other way around is difficult as English is so plain. Thank you again.