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Mielőtt + verb

Discussion in 'Magyar (Hungarian)' started by tarinoidenkertoja, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. tarinoidenkertoja Senior Member

    bologna,italy
    Italian
    Hello,
    I've a simple question about the usage of "mielőtt".
    I wanted to write : " Because of this, I want to try before deciding".
    My attempt : "Emiatt, mielőtt eldöntenék, akarom kipróbálni", a hungarian friend corrected the "eldöntsek" with "eldöntöm", I can't understand why.I thought that this conjunction always requires the conditional mood, am I right?
     
  2. Olivier0 Senior Member

    Toulouse
    français - France
    Hello, I am not a Hungarian native either, but because of family contacts with natives I can see both the grammatical and the real-use side of such questions. First of all, a minor problem is the preverbs:
    - I feel the main use is eldönt + vmit (object) but dönt + vmiről (about sth) - probably not true in all cases as the preverb may also imply a "fuller" thing (take a decision), but here el- does not seem useful just to say "(before) I decide",
    - akar (like tud, kell, etc.) makes the preverb move before it,
    so your test sentence is (assuming your "eldöntsek" is a typo):
    mielőtt döntenék, ki akarom próbálni / mielőtt döntök, ki akarom próbálni.
    Both seem to be possible, which is indeed surprising, considering the general rule of mielőtt + conditional.
    Maybe the present indicative is more of a general present, "before I decide (in general)", so the other one would be more "before I decide (now)"? But the latter would fit better, and still you were told you can use the present, so I do not know more than this: both are possible.
    -- Olivier
     
  3. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Just a few more ideas.

    Ezért sounds a bit better to me but maybe the context could change my opinion.

    akarom (also: akarnám)/szeretném are all possible and correct, although szeretném translates as "would like to", so a bit less direct (Conditional not obligatory)

    I don't quite see how "eldöntsek" propped up as a possibility. You could imagine this verb form in a sentence like this: Hogy eldöntsek bármit is, előbb ki szeretném próbálni.

    I don't know of such a rule in Hungarian. You can say either mielőtt eldöntöm (Indicative) or mielőtt eldönteném (Conditional), it does not make a big difference. (The first sound more direct, the second more polite but depending on the tone/general style, etc., the first can also be polite as the second firm enough.)

    N.B. döntenék (what to do, in general) vs. eldönteném (what to do, in particular)
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  4. Olivier0 Senior Member

    Toulouse
    français - France
    That "rule" may be essentially the following remark:
    (Kántor Gergely: A feltételes mód és a felszólító mód használata, p. 16)
    "Before you arrive at the Balaton, you go through Székesfehérvár - The subordinate clause is at a later time than the main clause, so it is necessarily unreal" (hence the conditional mode)

    So in our case, the real/unreal distinction would be
    mielőtt döntök - before I decide (and you can be sure I will decide)
    mielőtt döntenék - before I decide (if I ever decide, I might as well not decide after all)
    and in a situation like "let me try this before I decide", it is clear you will indeed decide.

    -- Olivier
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  5. tarinoidenkertoja Senior Member

    bologna,italy
    Italian
    Thank you for your replies, I was misled by the fact that in my grammar , in the only example provided mielőtt is followed by a conditional.
    So if I get you right, in a sentence like " I decide the job I'm going to apply for" I'd use "eldönt", while in "I decide where to work" I use "dőnt".
    I've just begun with Hungarian so be patient with me :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  6. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    The verbal prefixes like el, be, ki, meg ... typically give the verb a prefective aspect, i.e. the "action" is also supposed to be completed. This aspect is in English expressed by other means, or not expressed at all.

    Dönteni kell valamiről - It is necessary to decide about something. In this case the proper "action" (or better: the fact) of "deciding" is accentuated/expressed.

    El kell dönteni valamit - It is necessary to decide (about) something. In this case the completion of the "process of the deciding" is expected, i.e. "to make a definite decision".

    But the verb dönteni is too abstract, so it's not the best example for explaining or understanding the difference between the perfective and imperfective aspects. So let's see an other example:

    Írtam a nevemet - I have been writing/I was writing my name
    Leírtam a nevemet - I have written/I wrote down my name

    (the English translations are approximative)
     
  7. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Oh, this is getting complicated...
    I'm sorry, but for me this is not a real/unreal distinction necessarily, or even firstly... The first just sounds more determined and the second more polite, less authoritative.
    So the first could be said by a boss (who can come up with anything in the end, including a 3rd possibility!:)) and the second by a more diplomatic person who may have a very definite idea about which way he wants to decide, he just doesn't wish to show it. So, in either case, the speaker can come up with a decision or none at all - it'll just be presented in another way...

    I don't think it ("unreal") is a fortunate term even in the example with Balaton - especially if you are still "here" (e.g. in Pest): Balaton is just as "unreal" as Székesfehérvár at this moment. This is why you could even use the indicative in both parts of that sentence. (Mielőtt a Balatonhoz érsz, áthaladsz Székesfehérváron.)
    But I should have a look at that source you mention, Olivier.
     
  8. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Hello Zsanna and Olivier :).

    Actually, I do agree with both of you. Indeed in a common (everyday) speech there is no much difference between the conditional and and the indicative in this case, from the point of view of "realness".

    On the other hand, the possibility of the usage of the conditional in this case is neigther casual nor the consequence of some "requirement" to be polite or less authoritative. The opposit is true: we use (and often abuse, not only in Hungarian but generally) the grammatical forms that express the "unreal/possible" aspects instead of using the "natural" direct forms. The result is a certain "insensitivity" towards the original function of the some grammatical criteria.

    For example, instead of "Jöjjön már ide" we tend to say phrases like "Nem lenne szíves végre idejönni?" etc ... But this doesn't mean that "nem lenne szíves" is really a form of imperative ... Of course, the example with Balaton and Székesfehérvár is, perhaps, not the best example from the practical point of view, but I still feel the difference. With other words, if we want to understand exactly the differences and nuances, the argumentation of Olivier (according to the given link) is acceptable and (for me) plausible.
     
  9. tarinoidenkertoja Senior Member

    bologna,italy
    Italian
    I admit that I think of Russian when dealing with perfective verbs, so it's possible that it leads me astray in Hungarian but I suppose a perfective verb in the present tense has already a future meaning in itself in Hungarian too, am I right?
    In this case I try then I make a decision so isn't it already implied that I will have decided?(I wrote before I decide, since in English there's no need to underline the fact that I will actually decide using the perfect future). Or does it simply sound unnatural in Hungarian to use eldönteni in this case?
     
  10. Olivier0 Senior Member

    Toulouse
    français - France
    Maybe it is a natural tendancy that the "unreal/possible" character and politeness are mixed: for instance in French "please give me 1 kg of potatoes / kérek szépen 1 kg krumplit" is usually expressed je voudrais un kilo de pommes de terre, literaly "I would want..." with a conditional which really has no other value than being polite. I see your native language is Italian: vorrei un chilo di patate is just the same.
    -- Olivier
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2012
  11. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    No, the phrase "Emiatt/Ezért, mielőtt eldönteném, ki akarom próbálni" doesn't sound unnatural (at least to me :)).

    Partially yes, because a "true" present does not exist ... But in Russian the prefixed verb indeed replaces the "standard" future construction, e.g. ja budu pisať but ja napišu (and not *ja budu napisať). In Hungarian fogom írni and le fogom írni are both valid future forms. So eldöntöm is, let's say, a "quasi" present and el fogom dönteni is an explicit future.

    Of course, the present can be used, depending on the context, also instead of the future, exactly like in italian (domani decido/domani deciderò), regardless of the prefix (or the perfective aspect).
     
  12. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    I think it would be better to ignore the real/unreal aspect as well as the perfective aspect of the preverbs for the moment in view of the actual possibilities of translating the original sentence.

    Which, in my mind, could be the following:

    Mielőtt döntök/eldöntöm (possible indicative forms) or döntenék/eldönteném (possible conditional forms), ki akarom/szeretném próbálni (possible indicative and conditional forms, all usable with any one of the 4 verbs in the previous part)...

     
  13. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Francis, are you sure you didn't mean to say: a "true" future does not exist? (As it is expressed with a present form in Hungarian, i.e. there is no conjugation that would be exclusively for expressing the future. E.g. the verb fog conjugated in the present to express the future.)
     
  14. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    What you say is also true, and not only in Hungarian (shall/will, budu, werde, hò in decider-ò, ... are all presents from the grammatical point of view).

    But here I wanted to say that a true present practically does not exist from the point of wiev of the "reality". When something is done or accomplished, even if right now, it immediately becomes past. If it is not yet done, it is practically future. Thus the perfective verb forms like leírom, elmegyek, eldöntöm ... have a "natural" future sense.

    Even if not exactly the same but, I think from a certain point of view, a similar "thing" happens in English or Italian in the opposit direction: I have decided/ho deciso ... have also a perfective sense and the verbs to have/avere are conjugated in the present. Neverthless, these constructions "naturally" refer to the past and not to the momentaneous present.

    In other words, a jelen csak egy múló pillanat :) ....
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  15. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Wow, that's a brave thing to say!:)
    One could also say that it is the past and the future that don't exist and there is only a(n eternal) present. Here and now. Ici et maintenant. Ora e qua. Etc. etc.
    But that would lead us really off topic.:D
     
  16. Akitlosz Senior Member

    Hungary
    Hungarian
    Ezért mielőtt eldönteném, ki akarom próbálni.
    or
    Ezért mielőtt döntenék, ki akarom próbálni.
     

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