"Žerou tvoje kočky mouchy?"

Translation:Do your cats eat flies?

October 3, 2017

6 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/DarrylMose

Another word order question... Since the plural nominative ending and plural accusative ending of both of these words are the same, how do I know whether this means "Do you cats eat flies" or "Do your flies eat cats"? As nonsensical as the latter seems, I need to know this for future reference.

October 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Paul440375

Well, it can mean both ("Do you cats eat flies" or "Do your flies eat cats"). So sometimes you have to think a little and just dismiss the nonsensical interpretations. Usually (as in this case) it is clear what you mean.

October 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/DarrylMose

In this case, I did dismiss the nonsensical interpretation and got it right. The reason I asked this question is to find out what one would do to remove ambiguity from a statement and ensure there is no misunderstanding in cases where neither interpretation is nonsensical.

October 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Paul440375

Well, there are some scenarios of what can happen:

1) You either manage to use a completely different statement that avoids this problem or

2) sometimes you can use the passive voice (which can sound a little stiff) like:

Mrak zakryl měsíc (The cloud covered the moon / The moon covered the cloud.) → Měsíc byl zakryt mrakem. (The moon was covered by the cloud.) (not really used in spoken Czech.)

3) You say the ambiguous sentence and only then realize that it is ambiguous and the other person doesn't get it. After that you quickly start explaining what you meant (often using a lot of pronouns and wildly gesturing while the other person nods and smiles stupidly the whole time).

Out of these, I would say the third one is the most common :-). But again, when a situation like this happens, in most cases the context makes it clear what you mean so it's not a big deal.

October 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/DarrylMose

Haha thanks for the thorough response.

October 23, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/SteveWildones
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Perhaps it isn't so nonsensical. "Are flies eating your cats?", wherein the cats are presumably dead...

November 20, 2018
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