Slovak: Aký pán sa je?

Tisztul_A_Visztula

Senior Member
Hungarian
It is a hádanka. But from where does ‘sa je’ come? Normally I’d say it is reflexive version of either byť or jesť in 3rd person of singular.

But I could not find either byť sa or jesť sa in the dictionaries, not even here Pravopis - Slovnik.sk.

My best bet is: What kind of man eats himself? But it does not make sense considering that the answer of this hádanka is marcipán.

Could someone please explain it?
 
  • Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    It is indeed jesť in 3rd person singular.

    Slavic languages can make a kind of passive voice using the reflexive pronoun (‘sa’ in Slovak).

    I’d translate ‘sa je’ as ‘is (being) eaten’ here.

    Another example: Aký jazyk sa používa na Slovensku? - What language is used in Slovakia? (not ‘is using itself’).
     
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    morior_invictus

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    My best bet is: What kind of man eats himself? But it does not make sense considering that the answer of this hádanka is marcipán.
    Yeah. Such interpretation is, indeed, possible but since the riddle is aimed at the general public, one usually abandons it at the very beginning (or does not consider it at all) and opts for a more rational interpretation (at least that’s the author’s expectation/hope). The more rational interpretation is the one where pán functions as the grammatical patient rather than the agent. Another issue with the "What kind of man eats himself?" interpretation is that it would be very difficult for the author of the riddle to control the outcome as the answers could really vary: A very hungry one. / A confused one. / An intrigued one. etc.

    Aký pán sa je? = Aký pán je jedený? = Akého pána jeme? and perhaps even Aký pán sa jedáva? = What kind of pán is eaten?

    Q: What kind of pán is eaten?

    A:

    pán
    :cross: (no, as it would indicate some form of cannibalism and we haven’t reached that stage yet in Slovakia or perhaps we did in the past but it wasn't very sustainable :))

    Could the answer be something that contains the word pán then?

    vicišpán/zemepán/mocipán/milosťpán. . . :cross:(no, see above)
    propán :cross:(propane)
    tulipán :cross:(tulip)
    marcipán :tick:(marzipan)

    Notice that sa is used with both singular and plural nouns below as well as the verb tense that can change depending on what one intends to communicate.
    Zvratný tvar nezvratných slovies

    A. Pasívny zvratný tvar


    V týchto prípadoch zvratné tvary majú pasívny význam [...] synonymný so zloženým pasívnym tvarom. Preto možnosť zameniť zvratný tvar zloženým pasívom je kritériom jeho pasívneho významu:
    styk sa obmedzil = styk bol obmedzený,
    trusné jamy sa budujú = trusné jamy budované,
    ohlášky sa napíšu = ohlášky budú napísané,
    reči sa hovoria = reči hovorené,
    chlieb sa je = chlieb je jedený

    Zvratné pasívne tvary majú len osobné činnostné prechodné slovesá. Najčastejšie sú tvary 3. os. sg. a pl.
    Source: Morfológia slovenského jazyka. 1966, p. 388
     
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    numerator

    Senior Member
    Hungarian, Slovak
    In Visztula's defence, when dealing with riddles, it's often hard to tell what the "rational interpretation" is... The point of a riddle is often to violate one unspoken assumption or another.

    At any rate, it's good to keep in mind that sa, although usually called a "reflexive particle" or "reflexive pronoun", can, in fact, have several different meanings:

    (1) true reflexive: Umývam sa. Obliekajú sa. (myself, themselves)
    (2) reciprocal: Majú sa radi. Pobili sme sa. (each other)
    (3) passive: Vybudovalo sa nové ihrisko. (was built).
    This one doesn't work well with patients that are capable of being agents: Chlapec sa bije or Auto sa predbehlo cannot be interpreted passively.

    This is also the go-to construction to express that something is generally done or should (not) be done: Takto sa to robí/nerobí. Your riddle was in this category: Marcipán sa je. I would contradict Morfológia slovenského jazyka in that I don't think the passive participle can always be used to the same effect: Reči sa hovoria a chlieb sa je is a proverb, but Reči sú hovorené a chlieb je jedený is just a mess.

    (4) impersonal construction: Tancovalo sa do rána. V teplákoch sa do divadla nechodí.
    (similar to the passive but with intransitive verbs...)
    (5) change of state - I think that's called the mediopassive? Nahneval sa. (got angry - not: angered himself)
    ...
    and others, but the list is getting too long.

    Often only one or a few of these meanings are "natural" and learners can be excused for not guessing correctly which one it is!
     

    morior_invictus

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    In Visztula's defence, [...]

    Often only one or a few of these meanings are "natural" and learners can be excused for not guessing correctly which one it is!
    :eek: You seem to have interpreted some of my post in a negative way which means that I messed up somewhere to even allow such an interpretation. Visztula said that it does not make sense and I said "yeah." I liked the interpretation and found it funny and expanded on it a little. If you interpreted it negatively that means that there is a chance that someone else did as well so I will need to find a better way to make my posts and the intention behind them clearer.
    Chlapec sa bije or Auto sa predbehlo cannot be interpreted passively.
    Chlapec je bitý. / Auto bolo predbehnuté. might work. The first one does not sound as good a replacement as the second one, though.
    Reči sa hovoria a chlieb sa je is a proverb, but Reči sú hovorené a chlieb je jedený is just a mess.
    :thumbsup: :thumbsup: Yes, they don't sound good but I think what they meant is that if you can replace them in your mind (not necessarily in your speech/writings) with their passive counterparts and achieve a similar meaning, then the said criterion is met. It should work as some form of "guidance" or a "rule."
    (5) change of state - I think that's called the mediopassive?
    Could be. I was actually trying to avoid the technical aspect in my post as well as I was worried that I would provide a technically incorrect input so I just quoted from Morfológia. I feel like the "Obliekajú sa." part could also be non-reflexive (similarly to the "pán sa je" construction above) but then again, one could always come up with some convoluted context in which their proposed sentence would work so there's also that.
     

    numerator

    Senior Member
    Hungarian, Slovak
    @morior_invictus No, no, I must apologize. My use of the word "defence", and the rest, was intentionally over the top, since there had clearly been no attack. Sorry if it came across the wrong way!

    I just think riddles are inherently difficult because you have to guess which aspect to "shift". Part of what makes this riddle difficult is, I think, making sense of "pán sa je" - because "pán" makes such a good subject (very much unlike "marcipán").

    And yes, everything else what you said.
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    “ pán :cross: (no, as it would indicate some form of cannibalism and we haven’t reached that stage yet in Slovakia or perhaps we did in the past but it wasn't very sustainable :))”

    A real LOL happened recently. :)
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Ahojte chlapci!

    Aj ja som našiel vetu v mojej knihe, v tej je pasívny zvratný tvar v množnom čísle:

    “Pán učiteľ, nedali by sa vitamíny zo špenátu a mrkvy vložiť do cukríkov a čokolády?”

    I guess it is a nice one, because it contains “dať sa” with the meaning of “možno”. At least I love this sort of phenomena observed in languages.
     

    morior_invictus

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    “Pán učiteľ, nedali by sa vitamíny zo špenátu a mrkvy vložiť do cukríkov a čokolády?”
    I believe this is a different grammatical phenomenon so I guess it should have its own thread.

    It is a variant of dať sa + verb in its infinitive form (". . . nedali by sa . . . vložiť. . . ?" = ". . .would it be possible to add. . . ?")

    ___________
    P.S.: Both "v mojej" and "vo svojej" sound fine to me.
     
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    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Sure "dat' sa" is what you say, I could figure it out on my own earlier, but I thought that there was the same phenomenon, because the object is a sort of subject, so here there is also a sort of passive logics.

    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....".

    Am I not right?

    PS: In the weekend I checked a few threads on mo^j/tvoj/jeho/jej vs svoj, not just in Slovak, but also as regards Serbo-Croatian languague, and not just here in wordreference.com.
    What seemed to be sure for me is that each time when there is a possibility of ambiguity, you have to use svoj. On the other hand the chance of ambiguity is much lower in case of mo^j/tvoj than in case of jeho/jej.
    Some people says that you always have to abandon mo^j/tvoj if svoj works there, even if there is a possibility of ambiguity, some say, as you morior_invictus, that in this case one can choose either mo^j/tvoj or svoj.
     

    morior_invictus

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Sure "dat' sa" is what you say, I could figure it out on my own earlier, but I thought that there was the same phenomenon, because the object is a sort of subject, so here there is also a sort of passive logics.

    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....".

    Am I not right?
    You're right to say that if we changed "vitamíny" to "vitamín," "nedali" would change to "nedal," as far as the grammar goes, and that's a good thing. :thumbsup:

    As for your other point, here's why I think it's not the same phenomenon:

    nezvratné slovesá (non-reflexive verbs) - example: nakresliť (to draw something - e.g. a picture)
    zvratné slovesá (reflexive verbs)(verbs with either sa or si) - example: nakresliť sa (to draw a portrait/etc. of oneself)
    zvratné tvary nezvratných slovies (reflexive forms of non-reflexive verbs)(non-reflexive verbs with sa only that look like reflexive verbs but retain their non-reflexive meaning and are presented in a quasi-passive form) - example: Obrázok sa nakreslil ceruzkou. (The picture was drawn with a pencil.) --> as can be seen from the example, the main verb is in its reflexive quasi-passive form but retains its non-reflexive meaning.

    In your example (#8), the main verb is "vložiť" and "dať sa" is a modal verb (other modal verbs: môcť/chcieť/musieť. . . ).
    „Pán učiteľ, nedali by sa vitamíny zo špenátu a mrkvy vložiť do cukríkov a čokolády?“

    In its modal form, "dať sa" does not express what was done/is (being) done/will be done but rather what can/could be done or what one hopes can/could be done (i.e. dať sa = je možné / možno).

    Dá sa to ešte opraviť? (Can it still be fixed? / Is it still possible to fix it?) - Nedá. (No, it cannot. / it is not.)
    Dalo by sa to ešte opraviť? (Could it still be fixed? / Would it still be possible to fix it?) - Nedalo. (No, it could not. / would not.)
    iPhone-y sa nedajú opraviť keď sa pokazia. (iPhones cannot be fixed once they are broken. / It is not possible to fix iPhones once they are broken.).
    Nedá sa to ešte opraviť? (Can it still be fixed? / Is it still possible to fix it?) - Nedá. (No, it cannot. / it is not.)
    Nedalo by sa to ešte opraviť? (Could it still be fixed? / Would it still be possible to fix it?) - Nedalo. (No, it could not. / would not.)

    PS: In the weekend I checked a few threads on mo^j/tvoj/jeho/jej vs svoj, not just in Slovak, but also as regards Serbo-Croatian languague, and not just here in wordreference.com.
    What seemed to be sure for me is that each time when there is a possibility of ambiguity, you have to use svoj. On the other hand the chance of ambiguity is much lower in case of mo^j/tvoj than in case of jeho/jej.
    Some people says that you always have to abandon mo^j/tvoj if svoj works there, even if there is a possibility of ambiguity, some say, as you morior_invictus, that in this case one can choose either mo^j/tvoj or svoj.
    We are already straying too far from the main topic of this thread but to answer your implied dilemma, Panceltic's svoj is the only grammatically correct option in your case because the possessive pronoun you used indicated that the book belongs to the subject of the sentence (i.e. you). If it did not, you would need to use one of the following: môj, tvoj, jeho, jej, náš, váš, ich (môj, in your case). Having said that, the grammatically incorrect use of môj, tvoj, jeho, jej, náš, váš, ich in such cases is so common (and perhaps even preferred by some) that both versions sound fine to me.

    Požičal si odo mňa svoje auto.:cross: :thumbsdown: (the subject is he whereas the pronoun intended is my and thus, since the car does not belong to the subject of the sentence but to the person from whom the subject borrowed it, svoje is not only grammatically but also semantically wrong as it would indicate that the car is his)
    Požičal si odo mňa moje auto. :tick: :thumbsup: (for the reason stated above, moje is the only option here).
    Ten výraz som našiel vo svojom slovníku. :tick::thumbsup: (the subject of the sentence is I and since the dictionary belongs to the subject of the sentence - me, svoje should be used in order for the sentence to be grammatically correct and to adhere to the general rule)
    Ten výraz som našiel v mojom slovníku. :cross::thumbsup: (this sounds still fine to me even though Slovak teachers and linguists would probably frown upon it)
     
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    jasio

    Senior Member
    PS: In the weekend I checked a few threads on mo^j/tvoj/jeho/jej vs svoj, not just in Slovak, but also as regards Serbo-Croatian languague, and not just here in wordreference.com.
    What seemed to be sure for me is that each time when there is a possibility of ambiguity, you have to use svoj. On the other hand the chance of ambiguity is much lower in case of mo^j/tvoj than in case of jeho/jej.
    Some people says that you always have to abandon mo^j/tvoj if svoj works there, even if there is a possibility of ambiguity, some say, as you morior_invictus, that in this case one can choose either mo^j/tvoj or svoj.
    I'm not sure how it exactly works in the Slovak and Serbo-Croatian languages (probably similar), but in Polish there are possessive pronouns and particles dedicated for reflexive actions or possessive relations between subject and object - which are also used to form impersonate speech - and their usage is plain obligatory if only the contexts mandates it. This is different from English and Romance languages (I do not know about Hungarian), where regular possessive pronouns are used instead.

    For example, in Polish the phrase "*ja mam mój rower, Ty masz Twój rower, a on ma jego rower" ('I have my bycicle, you have your bicycle, and he has his bicycle') sounds plain awkward even though there is no ambiguity in the semantics. And it clearly discloses that the speaker is either a foreigner, or perhaps a native speaker who has grown up (or lived long) abroad and thinks in another language. The correct phrase would be "ja mam swój rower, Ty masz swój rower, a on ma swój" - and it's clear that three distinct bicycles are being discussed, because in each and every clause "swój" refers to a possessive relation between the subject and the object within that clause. After all, każdy ma swój rower (everybody has their own bike).

    Reflexive verbs function similarly:
    • ja się myję (I wash myself)
    • ty się myjesz (you wash yourself)
    • on się myje (he washes himself)
    • my się myjemy (we wash ourselves)
    • wy się myjecie (you wash yourselves)
    • oni się myją (they wash themselves)
    3rd person reflexive form is also used to form impersonal speech: "kurczak się piecze" ("a chicken is roasting", lit. "a chicken is roasting itself"), "zupa się gotuje", "grzyby się suszą", etc.

    As far as I can recall my past exposure to the Slovak language, the latter works similarly in the Slovak as well.

    BTW, the OP's "jaki pan się je - marcepan" would sound a bit peculiar, but I have an impression that I've heard it somewhere - perhaps as a regional joke (compare: "tam się nie je grzybów" - "mushrooms are not eaten there", "they do not eat mushrooms there").
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    BTW, the OP's "jaki pan się je - marcepan" would sound a bit peculiar, but I have an impression that I've heard it somewhere - perhaps as a regional joke (compare: "tam się nie je grzybów" - "mushrooms are not eaten there", "they do not eat mushrooms there").

    Co ma wspólnego łyżka z jesienią? :)
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Ten výraz som našiel vo svojom slovníku. :tick::thumbsup: (the subject of the sentence is I and since the dictionary belongs to the subject of the sentence - me, svoje should be used in order for the sentence to be grammatically correct and to adhere to the general rule)
    Ten výraz som našiel v mojom slovníku. :cross::thumbsup: (this sounds still fine to me even though Slovak teachers and linguists would probably frown upon it)

    “Ak mi dáte svoj dolár, ja vám zaspievam svoj song.”

    Just a “backtest” of my understanding: svoj dolár is his dollar, while svoj song is my song, isn’t it?
     

    morior_invictus

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    “Ak mi dáte svoj dolár, ja vám zaspievam svoj song.”

    Just a “backtest” of my understanding: svoj dolár is his dollar, while svoj song is my song, isn’t it?
    :thumbsup::thumbsup: (formal singular you) his/her or (plural you) their depending on the context but your understanding of the rule for "svoj" is spot-on.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Aj ja som našiel vetu v mojej svojej knihe, v tej je pasívny zvratný tvar v množnom čísle:
    I don't agree with this correction ...

    1. "V svojej knihe" sounds surely bad.
    2. "Vo svojej knihe" would be correct, of course. But "V mojej knihe", in the given context, is usual and idiomatic as well, in my personal opinion ...
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    I don't understand this correction ...

    1. "V svojej knihe" sounds surely bad.
    2. "Vo svojej knihe" would be correct, of course. But "V mojej knihe", in the given context, is usual and idiomatic as well, in my personal opinion ...

    Yeah, my bad – I forgot to change v into vo. But in my opinion, mojej sounds awkward.
     

    Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    :thumbsup::thumbsup: (formal singular you) his/her or (plural you) their depending on the context but your understanding of the rule for "svoj" is spot-on.
    I faced three sentences below each other:

    1. Píšem priateľovi list.

    2. Posielam dcére balík.

    3. Budem telefonovat´svojej priateľke.

    A) Is it really simply facultative to omit ‘svoj’ at any time? Or does this possibility exist only in case of family members and people being close to us as in case of some Latin languagues (eg. in Italian ‘mia moglie’ (=my wife) can be (or has to ?) switched to ‘moglie’)?

    B) And is there additional message/meaning if we add it and if we omit it? Or is it just a stylistic tool?
     

    Marek_D

    Member
    Slovak
    I faced three sentences below each other:

    1. Píšem priateľovi list.

    2. Posielam dcére balík.

    3. Budem telefonovat´svojej priateľke.

    A) Is it really simply facultative to omit ‘svoj’ at any time? Or does this possibility exist only in case of family members and people being close to us as in case of some Latin languagues (eg. in Italian ‘mia moglie’ (=my wife) can be (or has to ?) switched to ‘moglie’)?

    B) And is there additional message/meaning if we add it and if we omit it? Or is it just a stylistic tool?

    All 3 sound perfectly natural to me. The use of "svojmu/svojej" would be redundant in all 3 of the examples (because the fact that it's your friend/daughter/girlfriend etc, is clear from the context).

    I can imagine including "svoj" if it were somebody else (i.e. a 3rd person singular) saying these sentences, i.e.:

    1. Píše list (svojmu) priateľovi
    2. Posiela balík svojej dcére
    [This is to make it clear that it is HIS daughter he's sending a parcel to; not MY daughter]
    3. Bude telefonovať svojej priateľke [again, just to make it clear we are talking about HIS girlfriend; not mine]

    Hope this makes sense
     

    Marek_D

    Member
    Slovak
    Actually the sentence no. 3 does include ‘svojej’. So it is redundant there, too.

    Correct. It's perfectly natural to simply say "Budem telefonovať priateľke". It's because it's automatically assumed that, by saying "priateľke", you mean your own girlfriend. If that was not the case, then you would be expected to clarify that in your sentence by saying, for example, Budem telefonovať jeho priateľke or Budem telefonovať kamarátovej priateľke etc.

    But redundancy does not mean that it does not sound natural….
    Never said it didn't. The use of "svojej" in "Budem telefonovať svojej priateľke", makes it sound (to my ears anyway) a tiny bit more formal than just saying Budem telefonovať priateľke. This might just be me though and other native speakers may not feel the same way but that is the only difference that I can think of. I am not aware of any examples where the use of "svoj" (or lack thereof) would change the meaning of the sentence significantly (in 1st person singular).
     
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