Does "on the sea" have the same meaning here in Hungarian as it would in English (i.e. on the coast of the sea)? Or is this just meant to be funny because there are no houses on the sea in the way that boats would be on the sea?
It is "funny", the second one.
BTW, this sentence would not be funny to Dutch people! For example, see: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30412913
There are no houses on the sea, but walking kindergarten teachers yes.
IMO, "There are no houses at sea" should be considered correct here, as this is a more natural English expression of 'a tengeren' (in the 'nonsensical' sense of 'on the water').
If it meant to be "at the sea", the Hungarian sentence would say "a tengernél". And there are definitely houses there.
No, this sentence is indeed referring to the surface of the water.
Strange sentence. "On the sea" makes little sense to me.
That is correct, same thing in the Hungarian sentence.
Is "by the sea" a more apt English translation?
No, because the Hungarian sentence makes no sense, so the English one must not make sense, either. :)
Thanks! I think this is an element of the course that is leaving me quite confused. I can't differentiate between sentences that are meant to be surrealistic and those that aren't.
Yeah, I know. Some courses are making a better job at making the surrealistic ones completely unrealistic. Well, keep asking, somebody will clear it up for you. :) And good luck!