So there is no definite article in this sentence because it is not talking about a /specific/ telephone? This site makes me realise how even something as simple as what is 'definite' can vary between languages.
Yes, exactly. This phrase just defines the method of communication and doesn't refer to a specific phone, so there's no need for the article.
Yes. This is a quirk of English, it's like there is only one telephone.
I commented on another sentence, we do the same thing with elevators and trains, we use the definite article in English when it does not matter which specific object we are referring to.
I think we do it specifically with technologies. Seems we refer to using a technology as a [definite] concept, rather than a device. Or perhaps it's that when this speech pattern arose, we so typically only had one option (only one phone in the house, one train on the line) that it became common to always speak of it that way.
Maybe. I can think of some more:
- I am in the hospital right now, the doctor examined me
- He likes to dive in the water
- I read an article in the newspaper about this
- He is on the TV right now
- I often like to look out through the window
It is sort of a "lazy" use of the definite article, that seems mostly unique to English.
It is even more interesting in different variants of English. In US English as you correctly point out, you say "I am in THE hospital right now" in Australian/NZ /British English "I am in hospital right now". Similarly I would say "He is on TV right now" without using a definite article. It must hell on poor people trying to learn English!!
In English I would not say he is on THE tv right now. Instead "he is "on tv" right now"
Actually today tv can be on a device like a phone or tablet!
Is the implication here that we DO talk, it's just not on the phone that we do it but instead on some other medium?
That is correct. The use of a telephone is negated here, but the "speaking" part is intact. If we weren't talking at all, it'd be restructured as "Mi nem beszélünk telefonon."
I'm not sure if anyone says "to talk by phone". I only know "on the phone".
You are right.
English is my third language and the one I’m most fluent in but sometimes I get mixed up. I’m here practicing writing (helyesírás). I was born in Hungary but didn’t go to school there and I am planning to rent a flat and stay there for a while.
"beszélni" has been defined previously as "chat," but is now rejected. Reported.
Are you sure you're not confusing it with the verb beszélgetni? That is usually the preferred translation for "chat" in this course.
The default sentence for this should be "we are not talking on the telephone". The current one, "we do not talk on the telephone" implies that the action is never done, while the hungarian sentence does not. In general, such translations should use the continous form when available, instead of randomly changing between simple and continous without any regard to meaning. I can only imagine how confusing this might be to people trying to learn this language.