Ha az a volna ott nem lett volna.

Discussion in 'Magyar (Hungarian)' started by NagyKiss, May 4, 2013.

  1. NagyKiss Senior Member

    A fiúk a tegnapi labdarúgó-mérkőzésről beszélgettek. Az mondták a fiúk, hogy a magyar csapatnak sokkal jobban kellett volna játszania. Volna, volna, ha az a volna ott nem lett volna.

    What does the last phrase mean? Is it some kind of a set phrase?
  2. tomtombp Senior Member

    The Hungarian team should have played much better. Should have, should have, if that "should have" had not been there (then everything would have turned out differently). But the "should have" must be there, to make the statement true, because the fact is that they didn't play well. Something like that. Basically it says that the team didn't play well so it's no use to cry over the past putting the sentence into conditional trying to change the past.
    It's also kind of a play on words in Hungarian because of the lot of "volna".
  3. tomtombp Senior Member

    Although grammatically not totally correct, leaving the "ott" in the original place gives the sentence more rythm, so it is also acceptable.
  4. NagyKiss Senior Member

    Ok, thanks. It's still a little hazy for me, I guess I'll have to meditate over it a little. I mean I get the general message, but the phrasing kinda puzzles me still.

    P.S. For the record, I took this text straight from the book so I'm not responsible for that "ott":)
  5. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
    I think that the ott was better where it was, especially because it rhymes like this. (The ott in the end would break the rhyme.)

    The sentence in question is supposed to express in a humorous way "the sad truth" that it wasn't the case. In English there is no similar expression, meanwhile in Hungarian there are some others, too, that express the same thing, i.e. "you can wish things were otherwise, but unfortunately they aren't".

    Pl. Ha gazdag volna, már rég segített volna neked. (If he were rich, he would help you.)
    You could say the above mentioned sentence to express that it is not a consolation for you but in a resigned way, like a "loud sigh". (To indicate that philosophising about it afterwards doesn't change anything about the fact that he can't help.)

    Another possible answer (so a sort of synonym for your sentence) to express more or less the same thing but in more of a popular, not very elegant but in a certainly more outspoken and humourous style:
    Ha a templomtoronynak gatyája lenne, ő lenne a legnagyobb legény a faluban. (If the churchtower had trousers, he would be the biggest lad in the village.)

    In this answer you are not only aware that the possibility of the condition to become true is even more unlikely (than previously) but even to suppose it is ridiculous and you can't be fooled by such consolations.

    Maybe by this comparison the original sentence seems a bit clearer.
  6. NagyKiss Senior Member

    Thanks for a detailed explanation. It is funny, that in Russian there are several similar phrases.
    (Köszi a részletes magyarázatot. Az érdekes, hogy hasonló kifejezések az orosz nyelvben is vannak.)
  7. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
  8. tomtombp Senior Member

    It may seem that I'm only here to disagree :D, but to me "oroszban" is not an improvement at all, just another (shorter) alternative of "orosz nyelvben".
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  9. francisgranada Senior Member

    I agree. For me the sentence "Az érdekes, hogy hasonló kifejezések az orosz nyelvben is vannak" is grammatically acceptable as is, however, in the actual context without "Az" (as Zsanna has corrected) is the adequate version.
  10. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
    OK. Explanation is needed why I think it is an "improvement".;) (I suppose we all agree that it allows that the original was good already, so not a mistake in any way, a perfect possibility this is why I put my suggestion after a slash.)
    So the reason is simply that it doesn't sound natural. You wouldn't bother with the longer form, unless you have a special reason.

    (It reminds me when I first went to England and at Victoria, in a tourist information office - with a mile long queue behind me - I started off saying: "Would you be so kind as to tell me how I can get to Muswell Hill?" Because we were taught to be polite, above all not direct. Well, it wasn't the right place and time to apply that "golden rule"...:) Was it correct grammatically? Yes, it was. I still think that no native speaker would suggest it to be used in such a situation. It is a somewhat exaggerated parallel but it was to highlight better what I mean: in normal, everyday situations you tend to say things simpler than you can find them in language books.)
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  11. Akitlosz Senior Member

    Ha az a volna ott nem volna! = If the wish would have been a fact! = Если желание было бы фактом!
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  12. Csaba Member

    There's a nice song on this from Jazz+Az (Helló édes).

    És nagyon jó lett volna!
    De milyen jó lett volna! (ye, ye!)
    Csak az a volna,
    Ne lett volna!

    And it would have been so great!
    And how great it would have been!
    If only that 'would have'
    Hadn't been there!

    Sorry that my translation doesn't rhyme at all.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2013
  13. NagyKiss Senior Member

    Haha, that's great, thanks!

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