Slovak: Čím poslúžim?

Tisztul_A_Visztula

Member
Hungarian
Čím poslúžim?

It is written this way in my book as part of a conversation “U holiča”.

I just wonder whether it is really used in real life as an informal, shortened form of Čím môžem poslúžiť?
 
  • Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Member
    Hungarian
    As you can see I found out that “dať sa” may have a meaning of may/can/be possible. See Aký pán sa je?

    I wanna keep on improving. :)

    So can I say the above with the forms of

    “Čím sa dám poslúžiť?” alebo “Čím by som sa dal poslúžiť?”.

    The word order in the 2nd sentence is quite tricky, I just guessed it, since I have not learnt about “by” as part of “podmieňovací spôsob slovies”.
     
    Last edited:

    numerator

    Senior Member
    Hungarian, Slovak
    The word order of clitics is really rather tricky, but your intuition in this sense was perfect!! :) Unfortunately, apart from the word order, your sentences don't work at all :(

    Keep in mind that "dať sa" is always an impersonal construction - it means "one can do X" or "X can be done", without mentioning who would be doing X.

    With verbs that take accusative objects, the object becomes the nominative subject:
    Táto kniha sa dá prečítať za dva dni. = One can read this book in two days. This book can be read in two days.
    Toto víno sa nedá piť. = It's impossible to drink this wine. (it's so bad)
    Ten stôl sa tam nedá dať. = It's impossible to put that table there. (it doesn't fit)

    With intransitive verbs, you get an "empty", impersonal subject:
    Tu sa dá prejsť na druhú stranu cesty. (One can cross to the other side of the road here.)
    Tebe sa nedá vyhovieť. (There's no way to please you.)

    With verbs that already have sa, one of the sa is dropped:
    Na tom sa dá len zasmiať. (dá sa + zasmiať sa)
    Tu sa dá dobre najesť.
    (dá sa + najesť sa)

    with the consequence that the meaning can be ambiguous:
    To sa dá ľahko naučiť. (dá sa + naučiť sa or dá sa + naučiť) That can be easily learnt (or: taught).

    As for verbs that have the dative reflexive si, my feeling is that it doesn't work very well:
    ? Tu sa dá dobre oddýchnuť. (doesn't sound very good)
    ?? Tu sa dá dobre si oddýchnuť. (sounds even worse)
    Človek si tu môže dobre oddýchnuť. (this is what I would probably say) This is a good place to rest.
    But I haven't consulted any grammar books on this.

    ----

    In the barber situation, "Čím by sa vám dalo poslúžiť?" (How could you be helped? How could one help you?) would be grammatically well formed, but not idiomatic at all - perhaps because the impersoanl expression would imply that the speaker is not willing to help personally.

    [minor edit - typo]
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Member
    Hungarian
    So even if I made huge mistakes in this thread :), maybe I was right here: Aký pán sa je? saying “
    In my sentence, "vitamíny" is in plural and "dat'" is, too. I thought that it was not a pure coincident. I guess that if vitamín was in singular then "dali" would change to "dal", that is "nedal by sa vitamín zo....".”

    At least it is how I interpreted your remark above: “With verbs that take accusative objects, the object becomes the nominative subject:”
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Čím poslúžim?
    I just wonder whether it is really used in real life as an informal, shortened form of Čím môžem poslúžiť?

    In my opinion both Čím poslúžim? and Čím môžem poslúžiť? are perfectly OK, but agreeing with numerator I don't think these expressions are nowadays typical or idiomatic in the real life ....

    So can I say the above with the forms of

    “Čím sa dám poslúžiť?” alebo “Čím by som sa dal poslúžiť?”.

    Čím sa dám poslúžiť? and “Čím by som sa dal poslúžiť?” are grammatically not erroneous, but they have no practical sense. The literal translation could be something like "Mivel szolgáltatom magam?" and "Mivel szolgáltatnám magam?". (These Hungarian translations are a bit forced, of course, here they serve only for illustration).
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Member
    Hungarian
    “In my opinion both Čím poslúžim? and Čím môžem poslúžiť? are perfectly OK, but agreeing with numerator I don't think these expressions are nowadays typical or idiomatic in the real life “

    Then what is the proposed expressions nowadays for offering help?
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Then what is the proposed expressions nowadays for offering help?
    I don't know what barbers do say :) .... Perhaps something like "Ako si to predstavujete?", etc ...

    But this is not strictly a linguistic question, it depends on the concerete situation, etc. A propos, do barbers in Hungary say e.g. "Miben segetíthetek?" or "Mivel szolgálhatok?" (I have no personal experiences with Hungarian barbers, but such phrases seem to me a bit archaic in the given context).

    In general, for offering help, perhaps I'd say "Čím Vám môžem pomôcť?", "Ako Vám pomôžem?", "Čo si prajete?" (in case I am a salesman) ....
     
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    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Member
    Hungarian
    My focus was not the type of service provider, but the Slovak synonyms of “What can I help you?”, “What can I do for you?”

    In Hungarian both “Miben segíthetek, uram?”, “Mit tehetek Önért, uram?”, “Mivel szolgálhatok, uram?” do exist, although the latter two are much, much rarer.

    I just thought “Čím poslúžim?” was more or less a synonym of those.
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Member
    Hungarian
    Btw do "Čo si prajete?" and "Čo si želate?" mean fully the same? With the same politeness, kindness, etc? Or is there any small difference between them and one has to know when to use which one?
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Btw do "Čo si prajete?" and "Čo si želate?" mean fully the same? With the same politeness, kindness, etc? Or is there any small difference between them and one has to know when to use which one?
    Practically they mean the same, however in general no synonyms do mean exactly the same or are used exactly in the same situations.

    In my opinion the difference between "Čo si prajete?" and "Čo si želate?" is approximately paragonable with he Hungarian "Mit kíván?" and "Mit óhajt?", respectively.
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Member
    Hungarian
    I see. Since “óhajtani” is more polite in Hungarian then “želate” is the more polite in Slovak.

    In Hungarian the order of rarity is akar->szeret(ne)->kíván->óhajt where akar is the more common word.

    And parallelly akar is a bit rude, szeretne is the basic form, kíván is really polite, óhajt is the most polite.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    And parallelly akar is a bit rude, szeretne is the basic form .....
    In Slovak "Čo chcete?" and also "Čo by ste chceli?" are both rude in the given context.

    A propos, sometimes you may hear "Čo by ste rád/rada?". This expression corresponds grosso modo (nagyjából) to the Hungarian "Mit szeretne?", however it is colloquial and de facto grammatically not correct.
     

    numerator

    Senior Member
    Hungarian, Slovak
    To take the discussion in a slightly different direction: In the original sentence it appears as if "môžem" is omitted:
    Čím poslúžim? = Čím môžem poslúžiť?

    If you are offering to do something with a "Shall I...?" type question, it is also very idiomatic to leave out the modal verb "mám":

    Uvarím ti kávu? = Mám ti uvariť kávu?
    Neotvorím okno? = Nemám otvoriť okno?

    I have heard Hungarian speakers in Slovakia ask "Főzök egy kávét?" - meaning "Főzzek egy kávét?"
    They are not, in fact, asking you to predict their actions :) (which is clear from the intonation too, of course).
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Member
    Hungarian
    I have heard Hungarian speakers in Slovakia ask "Főzök egy kávét?" - meaning "Főzzek egy kávét?"
    Főzök egy kávét? as a question must be very rare in Hungary, since for me it is a special funny form of obedience, it is like a fake-obedience, at least in Hungarian language.

    I’d say it only to my boss as an assistant or to my wife as an obedient and subordinate husband who handles this situation in a funny way. Or just simply pretending that I am subordinate to be nice to her.
     
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