Verb + vala

Discussion in 'Magyar (Hungarian)' started by Rallino, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. Rallino Moderatoúrkos


    I am writing a story, ornamented with comical dialogues for which I want to use old language (to make it funnier).

    What I want to say is: Is this the guy, that your Majesty was talking about?

    Can I say: Ez van-e a gyerek, akiről őfelsége beszél vala?

    Many thanks!
  2. Ateesh6800 Senior Member


    As a language teacher, I'd say basics first and stylistic details later.

    As a student, I also enjoy style more than basics. :D


    Ez az a gyerek, akiről őfelsége beszélt vala?

    The verb lenni/van is often mandatorily omitted in the present tense.

    The tenses with "vala" are not something that Hungarians today can use correctly.
    Well-read people know these tenses passively from reading old texts but the details/rules of these tenses are not clear in their minds.

    Accordingly, I'm not too clear about in what these three tenses differ:

    beszél vala
    beszéle vala
    beszélt vala

    Then again, when people use "vala" for comic or stylistic effect, they rarely aim at using the grammar of a specific era of Hungarian language development. :)

    If you want to use old language, gyermek is an option (more formal).

  3. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    Thanks Ateesh, you saved the day! :)

    As you suggested, I will go for gyermek. The older - the better is my motto!* :)

    *Well, not in every context, though...

    Exactly my thoughts! My students are the same :D ~ I guess I can't blame them for being curious. ;)

    Anyways, thank you once more. :)
  4. Olivier0 Senior Member

    français - France
    I once found this good summary of different views about the real use in old texts.
    Basically, there was a system of 2 non-compound tenses and 2 compound tenses with vala, eg. for the verb ad "give":
    - adott: perfect tense, ie. something happening in the past with a resulting state in the present: in old texts this was the predominant tense in speech (dialogues, quotations) and today this is the only Hungarian past tense (like in French where a past participle with a perfect meaning donné is the origin of the general non-imperfect past tense: "passé composé" a donné = "has given, gave"),
    - ada: aorist tense (French "passé simple" donna = "gave" once, long ago), ie. general past unrelated to the present (this tense still survives in dialects, especially in Transylvania, with a possible meaning of recent past),
    - ad vala: imperfect tense = "he was giving",
    - adott volt or adott vala: pluperfect tense = "he had given".
    Nowadays of course, it is at best a stylistic effect when some people say things like mondtam volt or even mondottam volt "I said".
    -- Olivier
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2011
  5. francisgranada Senior Member

    The explanation of Olivier0 is really perfect and exhaustive. I should like to add only the following:

    The aorist (using Olivier0's terminology) ada (from adni), méne (menni), vala (former vola; the infinive *volni has been substituted by lenni), ... etymologically corresponds to the Finnish past and it seems to be the "original" Finno-Ugric past tense. The perfect tense (voltam, voltál, volt ... adtam, adtad, adta ...) is an “innovation” (though very old in Hungarian, documented in the most ancient manuscripts) and it derives from the past participle, so its "original" function could be rather perfective than temporal. See, for example, that this prefect tense can still be used also in the present or future: “Majd ha elolvastam a könyvet, visszaadom neked (When I’ll have read the book …)”.

    The egyszerű múlt (aorist) was still in use in the 19th century in the literature, but it’s function was already rather stilistical or „narrative“ (elbeszélő múlt).

    As to the original question, I agree with Ateesh6800’s proposal: Ez az a gyermek, akiről őfelsége beszélt vala?

    Of course, depending on the "degree of archaicity“ we could say also:
    Ez-e azon gyermek, akiről őfelsége beszéle?
    Ez-e a’ gyermek, a’ kiről őfelsége beszélt vala?
    Etc …
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  6. Akitlosz Senior Member

    Ez az a gyerek, akiről őfelsége beszélé?

    Present + imperfect

    Van is unnecessary.


    Ez vala az a gyermek, akiről őfelsége beszélt volt.

    Imperfect + pluperfect


    Ez vala az a gyermek, akiről őfelsége beszélé vala.

    Imperfect + past perfect
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  7. franknagy

    franknagy Senior Member

    "Ez vala az a gyermek, akiről őfelsége beszélé vala."
    Incorrect. You mix tenses:
    "Ez vala az a gyermek, akiről őfelsége beszélt vala."
    You must add something to respect the King.
    "Ez vala az a gyermek, akiről őfelsége beszélni kegyeskedett vala."
  8. francisgranada Senior Member

    Beszélé is definite conjugation, so "akiről őfelsége beszéle" (indefinite conj.) should be the correct form.
  9. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
    There is a problem with the verb tenses but it is more urgent at the moment to attract Rallino's attention to the fact that gyerek/gyermek is NOT guy in English!

    And dear Rallino, I would need a little bit more than just "funny/old" for the style to be able to suggest a translation for it.
    "Guy" is one of those words that have a lot of synonyms in probably every language, so give us some more clues about the aim/register of your story, please!:)

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