Why is it both sála and sálja? Are they just variants of each other, or does each word have a different meaning or use?
They are just variants, they mean the same thing. I think "sálja" may actually be the "correct" version.
It somehow depends on the letters of the word whether it gets a "-ja"/"-je" or just an "-a"/"-e". The word "sál" may be a borderline case.
Láb-a, hát-a, váll-a, kabát-ja, kalap-ja, sál-(j)a, bál-ja ("bála" is a different word), tál-(j?)a, pár-ja ("pára" is a different word), vár-a ("várja" is a different word), asztal-a, fiók-ja ("fióka" is a different word), talp-a, etc.
And then there is sár-sara, kanál-kanala, pohár-pohara, szél-széle, another szél-szele, etc.
And it gets worse before you learn it all. Enter the "assimilation". :)
Ok I can accept that this is the "third person plural" but maybe:- "their car, or their house" but their scarf! really? are we to assume that THEY a couple perhaps are sharing the scarf? he has it in the morning and she in the afternoon! Couldn't Duolingo chuck in a few ónónő's to try and confuse us a little more!
Sure, no problem, let it be "az óvónők sálja". :)
The point is, even when it is each their own, Hungarian can and usually will say it with singular.
"Ebben a városban a nők sálat viselnek."
This is, literally: "The women in this town wear scarf."
Not "scarves", and not "a scarf". Just "scarf".
My best advice is, think of it as an uncountable object. If it were "fish" or "flour" or "bread" or "sheep", you would have no problem with it being singular, would you? The best way is to treat everything like that. Or almost everything. There is no grammatical difference in Hungarian between everyone sharing a single thing or everyone having his/her own.
Yes, I accept that thanks vvsey, the problem here seems to be in the English translation "Their scarves are" would have made more sense, assuming there are multiple scarves in the Hungarian sentence.
Even if it were singular, singular "they" is still acceptable and I will internet-fight anyone who tries to say otherwise. They are just being obstinate and there's even plenty of historical precedent for a gender-neutral singular "they" in English.
plural possessors are not shown in hungarian. it will allways be az o and never az ok. Singular and plural can be determined by endings of possessed thing (j)a vs (j)uk
How would you say the plural of scarf in Hungarian in the third person? Would one scarf in the possessive in Hungarian not be "saljuk"? Please clarify.