"The girl walks over from the house to the sea."

Translation:A lány elsétál a háztól a tengerhez.

August 16, 2016

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"elsétál"? B- b- but I though "over" was "át", not "el"? Wh- this language, I swear


The language got you! Yeeeessssss!!!

I guess the difference is just not that important here. But let me ask you this: does "walk over to the sea" sound natural to you? Would it be better without "over"?

From the house to the sea, it just doesn't sound something that I would walk "over" or "across" ("át") to. Unless the sea is somehow "on the other side". Maybe there is a road or a park in-between.

"Elsétál" sounds more natural, more normal to me. Basically, she starts at the house and walks to the sea.

In conclusion, what you thought is absolutely correct. It is just an inaccurate translation. It is those nuances that you need to be a native for to get absolutely right. The Hungarian sentence does sound more natural with "el".


But let me ask you this: does "walk over to the sea" sound natural to you? Would it be better without "over"?

To me, the addition of "over" suggests a relatively short distance. You might, for example, walk over to the neighborhood park, but you would definitely not walk over to an adjacent state - unless either you live on the state line or are remarkably persistent. (although, confusingly, that state might be referred to as "the next state over") If we wanted to express "on the other side", I think we'd use "across". Although, "over" is, now that I think about it, rather tricky and likewise probably only native speakers have a good handle on it. Says Wiktionary:

When used in the context of "from one location to another", over implies that the two places are at approximately the same height or the height difference is not relevant. For example, if two offices are on the same floor of a building, an office worker might say I'll bring that over for you, while if the offices were on different floors, the sentence would likely be I'll bring that up [down] for you. However, distances are not constrained, e.g. He came over from England last year and now lives in Los Angeles or I moved the stapler over to the other side of my desk.


Thanks! That makes a lot of sense. "Át" seems to have a lot in common with "over" and also a lot with "across". To me, with "át", the emphasis is on the source and the destination, and their relationship. It could be from one office to another (on the same level), from one tree to another, from my place to your place, etc. And it can also be across something. Across the street, across town, etc.
With "el", there is more emphasis on the journey itself, and the destination.

Átmegyek a szomszédhoz - I go over to the neighbor.
Elmegyek dolgozni - I go to work.

"Átmenni a háztól a tengerhez", to me, just does not fit the mold. They are (hopefully) not on the same level, and they have nothing in common. So, what remains is the "across" sense of the word. The house is on one side of the road, the sea is on the other side. "Átmegyek a tengerhez" can pass.
Or I could imagine a house on the beach, with an ice cream stand next to it, and a long line of people. And another ice cream stand immediately next to the sea, with only a few people. I would choose "átsétálni a tengerhez". Walk over there with a purpose.
And whoever chooses "elsétálni" might enjoy the walk itself, as well.

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