Complex conjunctions

Discussion in 'Magyar (Hungarian)' started by FRENFR, Jun 30, 2011.

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    FRENFR Senior Member

    I have a problem...

    I simply want to know the translations of a few conjunctions 'so that' I can use slightly longer sentences or put two ideas together.

    I have my jolly good dictionary but there is never one simple translation. How on earth can I learn your language if I don't have a simple translation in mind?

    As you know, I work professionally as a translator so I am no stranger to languages, word-for-word logic, etc., but even in French I could (well, the dictionary, but me too of course!) provide ONE word for ONE conjunction.

    For example, a few good conjunctions (not but, and, or, too.. I know these and fortunately they are one simple word in Hungarian - but these?... no chance - so how do I know which word to use!?):

    1. However = bármennyire, bárhogy, akáhogy is, akárhogymennyire. I know that 'however' can mean 'any way/whichever way', but I'd like the translation for "I do this and this, blabla... However, when it rains, I do that...". I see in the dictionary, the example: However, he may do it or not. Translation? Mindamellett lehet, ... This is not in the original options for 'however'! So why not!? Can't one say "Bármennyire, ..."? Can I have one word please, for 'however', to introduce the second clause to contradict the first? A word to get me by for a few months so I can at least use two clauses!

    2. Unless = ha(csak) nem, kivéve hogyha. How does this help me? "I try to study all day unless I have a translation to do" = ?? Can I have one simple word again for 'unless'?

    3. Whereas = miután, minthogy, mivel, tekintettel arra hogy, habár, holott, jóllehet, noha, míg ellenben. I'm sorry, but this just makes me sick. How the hell can there be so many different ways to say whereas? It ONLY means the idea of comparison. One doesn't even need context to understand this word. "I like walking whereas Eszter likes running", "I find biology boring whereas my teacher tells me it's the best subject in the world" (for example). One word again, please!!!

    My goodness I sure did choose a language to learn didn't I.

    Thanks in advance for this one. It's a biggie.
  2. francisgranada Senior Member

    But also the opposite is true: for a simple word (from the Hungarian point of view) like míg I've found 6 English equivalents, for mellett about 10 equivalents ... Though the English and the French are very similar to each other from many points of view, I've found 8 French expressions for however in an Eglish-French dictionary ... :).

    By the way, as far as I remember, I have never used in my life the word whereas in an English conversation and I'm still alive :D. A tip: try to express yourself in Hungarian in the simplest possible way until you are perfectly familiar with the basic grammar and vocabulary. Words like whereas, neverthless, albeit, eventhough etc. can be ommitted or "circumvent" or replaced with other words in a simple dialog ... E.g. instead of "I like walking whereas Eszter likes running" you could say "I like walking when/while Eszter likes running". I know that it is not the same, of course, but isn't it sufficient for - let's say so - a beginner?

    A very simplified answer to your question:

    whereas - míg
    however - azonban
    unless - hacsak nem
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011

    FRENFR Senior Member

    I'm sure you found 8, but there is only ONE direct translation and it works 100% of the time: Cependant = However, ...

    Even if there is another (toutefois), cependent will work absolutely 100% of the time in every context.

    whereas - míg
    however - azonban
    unless - hacsak nem

    I also find here: Amig.

    Are these acceptable and correct? If so, I will base all sentences for 'whereas' on this simple structure, for now.

    Whereas: Szeretek sétálni amíg Eszter szeret futni.
    However: Fordító érdekes munka, azonban, munka megjósolhatatlan.
    Unless: Eszter eszik vöröshagyma (no K?) hacsak nem otthon vagyok.

    If this is acceptable, I will simply follow this simple structure.

    Now shoot me down in flames ;)
  4. Tronn Member

    Slovak, Hungarian

    here are the translations you asked for (with a few suggestions):
    "Ezt és ezt csinálom... Azonban/Viszont (both are equally correct, you can choose whichever pronounces easiest) ha esik, ..."

    "Igyekszek egész nap tanulni, hacsak nem kell fordítanom."

    "Szeretek sétálni, míg Eszter a futást szereti."
    "Szerintem a biológia unalmas, míg a tanárom azt állítja, hogy ez a legjobb tantárgy a világon."

    "Amíg" stands rather for "while" and is used to describe the relationship between two actions happening at the same time: "Amíg én kint sétálok, Eszter otthon főz." - "While I'm walking outside, Eszter is cooking at home.". However, you could use "míg" as in the previous example.

    You used "azonban" correctly, although I would change the sentece slightly: "A fordító munkája érdekes, azonban kiszámíthatatlan." - literally: "The work of the translator is interesting; however, it's unpredictable. (note: the comma is only in front of "azonban")

    Again, I would make a few adjustments: "Eszter vöröshagymát eszik, ha(csak) nem vagyok otthon."
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011
  5. Ateesh6800 Senior Member

    Hello there! :D

    You do seem to be having a problem there. :D

    Let me try to give you some insight. :D There is no problem with the languages. What you have a problem with is what we call the equivalence trap. You're in it. :D

    OK, let me explain.

    There is water in every part of the planet, so every language has a word for water. As a result, when you learn a new language, the word for water is one of the first 100 words or so you learn. In Hungarian, if someone has poor language skills in any specific language, you say 'I can't even ask for a glass of water in English/Russian etc.'. As a result, people have the natural impression [in other words: assume] that it always works like that: you have a word in your language, and the other language will always have an equivalent. That would be (as you put it) a simple translation. One has an emotional-intellectual desire to always have ONE word for ONE word. But this sort of word-for-word logic (or language equivalence) is based on an incorrect assumption. Why? Consider the word brackish. Hungarian does not have a single-word equivalent for this adjective because Hungary does hot have a see. If there is no brakish water in Hungary, you don't need a word for it. Ergo there is no natural equivalence. Now, when your mental map expands and you start business with sea faring nations and start to travel and teach global geography to your children, there arises the need to say brackish water in Hungarian. So you come up with an explanation (rather than an equivalent) and say enyhén sós víz (slightly saline water)... or you use a foreign word (brack is foreign even in English as it comes from Dutch!)... or make something up... but this is not simple equivalence. The equivalence is not to be taken for granted.

    Now, conjunctions.

    The simplest ones are almost universal: és = and; de = but; vagy = or. But the rules that apply to them are different.

    The rest of the conjunctions, however, are not a closed set of conjunctions with specific meanings. Despite the fact that... Althought... Even though... These mean pretty much the same and mostly differ in their 'flavour' and to a degree in their use. It is impossible to link each of them to a simple, word for word equivalent in any other language.

    Dictionaries give you the impression that Word 1 = Word 2, but this is a fallacy. The bigger the dictionary the fewer 1:1 correspondences you find in it.

    Also, there may be more 'simple equivalents' among the conjunctions between English and French than between English and Hungarian simply because English and french are more closely related. A good exampe is "in lieu of", which is almost in French anyway. Hungarian is closer to German than to English or French; even though they are unrelated 'genetically', a lot of loan translations have come from German into Hungarian; a lot of people spoke both languages; a lot of the mentality has been common. This is much less so between English and Hungarian.

    So: forget about 1:1 equivalence. it would be nice to have but it does not exist, period. There is not a single reason why such equivalence should exist. If such equivalence existed, machine translation would be as simple as converting a *.tif file into a *.bmp file. We all make a living off of the fact that no language equivalence exists.

    Have I been there?

    Yes, I have an incomplete Excel file with Hungarian-Spanish conjunctions. I gave up for the following reason: Spanish conjunctions mean rather different things depending on whether they come with the indicativo or the subjuntivo. I made the list before I understood this and the list is therefore useless.


    Do a short-list. Learn the ten or so most common conjuntions only, and try to collect specimen sentences that give you a good feeling of how they are used.

    Then carry on adding new conjunctions at a relaxed pace. Instead of trying to memorise all of them (and frustrate yourself to death because your desire for equivalence does not get satisfied) just learn small groups of related conjunctions (bár; habár; jóllehet; ugyan; annak ellenére, hogy...) and collect specimen sentences that give you a good feeling of how they are used.

    Also, reality check in the line of Francisgranada's comment: you don't need an active knowledge of the more literary high-brow conjunctions until you master the basic language. Just think of a Hungarian who wants to impress you by a sentence like this:

    "Suffice it to say that albeit she don't sleeped the yesterday night she to I were very kind."

    Suffice it to say? Cool. Albeit? Cool. And the rest?

    My advice to someone like this would be:

    Learn to say "She didn't sleep last night but she was kind to me."

    Get your basics down first; use the simplest sentences and the simplest conjunctions when you use the language actively; and slowly learn more complicated conjunctions passively (learn to understand them first rather than to immediately use them). Over time, you will find that your passive conjunctions start becoming active in your brain simply because you have seen them frequently enough in context (as compared to just having memorised them without much natural context).

    It is nice to say "She was kind to me despite the fact that she didn't sleep last night.", but (Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Efficient People) first things first. In other words:

    (0) Learn to use/understand the target language well at a low level of complexity first.
    (1) Spend most of your time building and consolidating your low-level basic Hungarian (both comprehension and speaking/writing).
    (2) Spend some of your time adding fancy stuff like complicated conjunctions to it. This is important because this may be the fun you need to have to stay motivated! Read a lot extensively and strive to understand conjunctions passively one by one. What I do is I have a Spanish book that I read with a highlighter in hand and I only highlight the conjunctins, striving at understanding what they mean in that specific sentence and why. In that book, I don't worry about unknown vocabulary. I do the same with the subjuntivo: I have a book I read only highlighting all the subjuntivo forms and finding out why a verb is in the subjuntivo form (in this book, I ignore conjunctions, except when the two are related: conjunction plus subjuntivo).
    (3) Don't spend any of your time frustrating yourself to death by hopeless desires based on false assumptions like "there is 1:1 equivalence between languages". :D

  6. francisgranada Senior Member

    Szia Attila, le a kalappal :D.

    FRENFR Senior Member

    Tronn, thank you kindly. I have written your translations down :)

    Ateesh, I am in awe of your response... but what's new!?

    I agree with everything, but I just don't know where to begin. I've spent many months reading about the theory of Hungarian but everything I find (be it a PDF book on the internet or a website like hungarianreference (which is impossibly too complicated for me even though it has all the knowledge I'll ever need)), just doesn't tell me how to learn or what to learn.

    What do I know right now:

    I know the numbers since I found that quite easy. I know the pronunciation of the letters of the alphabet. I know the days of the weeks and the months. I know and, but, too/also, or, because, now, only. I know the 'W' questions who, what, when, where, why and I understand that when used in a sentence, one adds an A (aki and ki, etc..)

    I know some words, too! Thank you, how are you, I would like, a/an/the (but still unclear on this az ez thing). I know the colours red, blue, gree, orange, yellow, the two reds, brown, black and white. I know i = of something/where, fel is up, ban is in...

    I have a list of 100 common verbs which I am memorising but considering I see verb conjugations are so illogical, I have no idea how I'll use them correctly. I guess I'll have to write a little sentence for each one which is different to the rest in terms of present conjugation.

    So, I really just don't know what to do :( It seems that when I learn a verb (rendelni, for example, to order), it means nothing on its own because so many things can be added to it, the vowel harmony thing (which I understand in principle, I just can't make long sentences yet to have to USE it!)

    So I thought that some conjunctions would be easy to learn (hindsight is 20/20, eh) so I'd be encouraged to say slightly longer sentences (such as translated above) without getting lost. It was not to try to be 'high-brow' (good word, you show-off ;) )

    I won't give up. I just don't see which direction to go in.

    How can one possibly build blocks on top of each other in Hungarian when it seems everything is made of dust!
  8. Tronn Member

    Slovak, Hungarian
    Dear FRENFR,

    have you tried using the resources from the site "Magyar Óra"? Here's the link:
    I think it would be worth trying as the lessons seem to be well-structured and planned (the grammar overlaps partly with the topics and so on), so there'd be no problem with "Gosh, what should I learn next?". And there are plenty of exercises as well.

    FRENFR Senior Member

    Amazing website. Thank you so much!
  10. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
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    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011
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