"A szobor a városban olyan, amilyen a város: unalmas."

Translation:The statue in the city is like the city: boring.

August 25, 2016

This discussion is locked.


So... what's the difference between "mint" and "amilyen"?


Excellent, thanks.


Would "The statue in the city is like the city itself: boring" be an acceptable translation? Does Hungarian have an equivalent expression?


Yes, Hungarian has a fairly precise equivalent: ...olyan, amilyen maga a város.

Maga, besides functioning as a polite form of "you", also serves as a reflexive in various forms.


Yes, "maga" stands for "self" actually. Maybe it used to be just "self", then became a way of addressing others. I don't know.

I, myself - én magam
you yourself - te magad

She looks at herself (her own self) in the mirror - (Saját) magát nézi a tükörben.


Using my limited frame of reference, it seems like the polite/formal forms of the second person involve a certain amount of indirection, whether by making it plural (as French speakers do - the you-formal is the same as the you-plural), or by addressing someone in the third person, in terms of the verb conjugations that are used (ön and önök use 3rd-person verbs, the same thing is done in Spanish). Maybe with "maga," the idea is to convey something like, "How would yourself like your coffee?" Looking someone in the eye and saying "you" is very direct. Being direct is considered rude, and maybe invasive, in many cultures, unless you're on pretty familiar terms with the person.


It is ön/önök and maga/maguk. And "ön" is more formal than "maga", not the other way around.

The difference is not so easy to explain but this may help: you use "ön" in official and formal situations. For example, if you receive an official letter from your representative or from the electric company, those will address you as "ön". Never "maga". I would say anyone that you don't know personally, you address as "ön". That is a nice polite way of addressing someone. People will also call you "ön" in the same situation. You just get introduced to someone, or a reporter makes an interview with you, or more common, everyday situations, they are all good with "ön".

Now, "maga" comes when you are more informal with someone. That is the informal formal way.

Note, you don't just automatically switch from the formal "magázás" to the informal "tegezés" when you get closer to someone. People, especially in the earlier decades, would stay life-long friends and still use the formal speak. Children would address their own parents that way. Married couples would talk to each other that way. It is very old-fashioned but I know people today who still do that. It is not just formal vs informal. It is a way of speaking. People can feel very uncomfortable switching over from one to the other.

So, when you are good friends/buddies/acquaintances with someone, but you still use the formal speak, you can safely use "maga" without meaning any disrespect. Colleagues at a workplace would be a typical environment for that. You can use it with your boss, too.

This, of course, is another thing that is totally alien to English natives. The closest comparison I can some up with is how you address someone as Madam/Sir (sometimes even within the family) and others as "hey buddy". You use the same conjugation for the two in English, yet you speak differently. In Hungarian, it is a different person/conjugation.

As I said before, you don't just automatically switch from "magázás" to "tegezés" with someone. It would be a formal decision, usually on some special occasion. You go out with a colleague and get to know each other more personally, you meet at a party informally outside of the normal formal relationship, you get married and you are suddenly part of the family, etc.. If there is some kind of hierarchical difference between the parties (seniority, authority), then the higher rank would normally offer it to the lower one. If it is equal parties, either one can suggest, and then they can "drink the per tu", that is, drink to the occasion that they are going to address each other as "te" from then on. The equivalent of this in English would be something like "don't call me Mr. Smith anymore, call me John, or call me dad".
But, again, some people have no problem at all sticking to "magázás" as long as they live.

Now, there are also other types of formal speak, and they are typically used across a significant age difference. Children would use it with any adult outside their family, or even younger adults with their elders in their extended family. They would not use "ön" or "maga" at all but, rather, address the person some other way. They would call them simply "bácsi" for an adult male and "néni" for an adult female, or they would also add the "title" or name of the person. "Kati néni", "Péter bácsi", "tanítónéni", "rendőr bácsi", etc. And then, when they face the dilemma of posing an existential question, they would use a "detour", avoiding a direct addressing of the person:

"Hogy tetszik lenni?" instead of "Hogy vagy/van?"

This is literally something like "How does it please you to be?", but people do not actually mean that. This is just a way of speaking, that is all. So, instead of slapping the person in the face with a conjugated verb, they use "tetszik"/"tetszenek" as a kind of auxiliary verb and attach an infinitive to it.

  • "tetszik" + infinitive, instead of a conjugated verb

There are other ways, but this is getting too long already.
Now, imagine growing up talking to an adult like this, and then one day that adult tells you "tegeződjünk", let's use the informal speech from now on. That would make some people tongue-tied for days...

Now, with today's world getting more and more informal, people will use "tegezés" much more freely, even with total strangers sometimes. There is nothing especially wrong with that.

Oh, and back to the original question. When you are on the formal with someone but want to show less respect for some reason, using "maga" is the usual choice. You know, you can be rude formally, too, with your tone, your temper, your choice of words.
But using "maga" in itself does not mean that you are being disrespectful. Some people, with the greatest respect, will use "maga" exclusively, in all formal situations.

And let's also not forget the actual meaning of "maga": "self". So, even if you use "ön" with someone, when you tell them "Take care of yourself" you will say "Vigyázzon magára". If you say "Vigyázzon önre", that is something different. That assumes a third person that should look over you: "May the insurance company take care of you" - "A biztosító vigyázzon önre/magára".


Yes, I agree. But do note, you use the same third person conjugation with "maga" as you do with "ön", when addressing someone. "Ön" is just somehow more formal, more respectful, most of the time. But this can change from person to person. I am sure some people use only "maga" without meaning any disrespect.


Yeah, I don't quite understand the difference in usage between ön/önök and maga(k?). On one hand, maga is more formal than ön, but it's also less respectful? What are the situations where maga is appropriate?


I also added itself to the English translation. It just makes more sense.


This sounds like a sentence I could imagine a 'real' person saying! But agree "itself" sounds better


I think it sounds a bit better in Hungarian, too.
"A szobor a városban olyan, amilyen a város maga."


town is not accepted


It should be accepted

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