If it's sincs instead of nincs, shouldn't this be something more like "Nothing is on the wall either"?
Not really, it is just how Hungarian says things. Double negative and such. And remember, "sincs" works the way "is" does. It refers to what stands in front of it. So here it belongs to "semmi" (nothing), not to the wall. You can think of "sincs" as "also nincs".
If you were trying to say something like "There is nothing on the floor, and there is nothing on the wall, either", then the wall part would be "a falon sincs semmi". Or "nincs semmi a falon sem" - where "sem" means "also nem".
But isn't "semmi nincs" also a double negative? Arcaeca asked why "sincs" instead of "nincs." I don't have an issue with double negatives, but I don't quite understand the difference - in the context of this sentence - between nincs and sincs, since the English translation doesn't contain a word like "either."
When it is paired with "semmi", there is really no difference. You don't need to try to understand this, this is just how it is.
"Semmi nincs" = "semmi sincs".
My guess is that "semmi sincs" is the more correct way, but it does not matter. You can use either one.
If you still want to understand the logic of this, try to list all the things in the world. All of them. And, for each one, say
"X sincs a falon" - "X is not on the wall, either".
Or, you could just say the one opposite of everything: "semmi", and be done with it:
"Semmi sincs a falon."
OK, I don't need to understand it. I'll take your word for it. :) I just thought that there must be a difference, and I wanted to know what it was.
Yes, as far as I can think, the difference is only grammatical, or correct vs slightly incorrect. We can rearrange this sentence to make it clearer what is happening.
"Semmi sincs a falon." = "Nincs a falon semmi sem."
All I did was I broke up "sincs" into "sem" and "nincs" so that I could use them separately. Not next to each other, of course! Now let's look at the result again:
"Nincs a falon semmi sem."
How easy it is to simply drop that "sem" at the end! It is all negative anyway, it makes no difference:
"Nincs a falon semmi".
Let's rearrange it:
"Semmi nincs a falon."
There you go. :)
Furthermore, you could ask me what I am doing:
"Mit csinálsz?" - What are you doing?
And I could say either of these:
They mean the same thing. But why should I bother adding "sem", when I am sooo lazy. :)
And the reason I am saying that "Semmi nincs a falon" may be considered slightly "incorrect" is because there is this interesting usage by Hungarians where logic would clearly dictate the "s" variant, yet sometimes the "n" variant is used. Let's see .... we organized this great event, but nobody came. That is, not a single person showed up:
"Egy ember sem jött el." - this is clear, not even one person came.
But some people would say the following, meaning the same thing:
"EGY EMBER nem jött el."
It could mean that there was one person who could not make it, everybody else did show up.
But more often than not, what is meant is that not even a single person came. That is, nobody came.
Now, when you do this with "senki", it makes no difference, because nobody came either way.
But if you do it with one person, then there is a high chance of misunderstanding. You have to clearly understand the context and the tone of the speaker. They will usually put a special emphasis on "egy ember" when they mean nobody. But sometimes the only thing that helps is asking back for clarification. If you know the person, you may learn their way of speaking and you will correctly guess what they mean.
Yes, I think so, too. "No tengo nada" - literally "I do not have nothing", but really "I have nothing" or "I do not have anything".
Why is "Nothing is on the wall" not accepted. It seems the same to me as the approved translation
I've always thought that the use of sincs instead of nincs added extra emphasis i.e. there is nothing "at all" on the wall. Am I correct in thinking that?
No, I don't think there is a difference in emphasis. I think they are just variations of the same thing.
How would you say 'There isn't nothing on the wall' (ie., you're wrong, there is something there)? Would it just be 'semmi nem van a falon'?
No, you wouldn't really say it like that. "Semmi" is not a thing that is actually on the wall, is it?
Instead, you could just say:
"Van valami a falon." - There is something on the wall.
In English, I think that "nothing" is, if not a thing, then at least a concept, that could be on the wall. Say if someone says, "There's nothing in the refrigerator." You could say, "There isn't 'nothing' in the fridge, there's a jar of olives." It's not the most common phrasing, but it's not unheard-of. It's the kind of double negative that really means a positive. But maybe this doesn't work in Hungarian? Possibly because double negatives actually mean something negative? So the "two negatives negate each other to mean a positive" thing doesn't work.
Yes, I think that is it exactly, thanks. Also, "We didn't come here for nothing" does not work like that in Hungarian, for the same reason.
Also "I am not doing nothing.", etc. These are all negatives in Hungarian.
For "There isn't 'nothing' in the fridge", we can say
"Nem igaz, hogy nincs semmi a hűtőben..." - It is not true that there is nothing in the fridge.
Or just a simple contradiction will do:
"De van (valami a hűtőben)."
"De van egy üveg olajbogyó."