1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Swedish
  4. >
  5. "En middag"

"En middag"

Translation:A dinner

November 18, 2014



This was how I was silly and lost a heart:

Me: "Ah, middag. Like Dutch middageten, German Mittagessen...lunch, right?"

Duolingo: "Wrong! Everyone knows the middle of the day is when you eat dinner" :p

Interesting semantic shift from lunch to dinner though! :)


The problem is that the convention in English disagrees with this translation. At least this is true if the term "middag" refers to the time of day that the meal occurs rather than which meal in the day is the main meal. "dinner" in English only refers to which meal is the main meal and is associated with both the noon meal and evening meal. It only somewhat favors the noon meal. If the Swedish tendency is to eat their main meal in the evening then a translation to "dinner" is very reasonable. Although this still depends on whether the term "middag" refers to the significance of the meal rather than the time of day.

You can think of the English usage like this...

(1) morning meal = breakfast, or dinner if anyone were to make this the main meal

(2) noon meal = lunch, when light, or dinner when it is the main meal

(3) evening meal = supper, when light, or dinner when it is the main meal

I sent a report on this and would like if a native speaker who knows could explain the answer to my question on whether "middag" refers to significance, time, or both. If you read this and turn out to be the same person who will have read my report then I am sorry to have accidentally mistaken this for the Danish course in my report. I am simultaneously studying Danish and Swedish and immensely enjoying both courses! You have beautiful languages and they are very fun to learn. :)


The standard usage of the Swedish term today refers only to the significance of the meal. Hardly anybody eats middag at noon, and we don't use the word middag to refer to that time of day either.


Except in Skåne (Southern Sweden) :) Where lunch is Middag ;)


I've written a much longer comment about meals here https://www.duolingo.com/comment/6176753
In the course, we're trying to teach Standard Swedish, so we stick to one definition of middag in order to avoid confusion, but we also try to explain that usage varies.


I asked my friend who is from Malmö and she said no one she knows calls middag lunch. They use the standard frukost, lunch and middag. So I guess it's not everyone from Skåne =P


Thank you for taking the time to explain and help me understand! :)


It's just not that simple in English, it depends on region and social class and a bunch of other stuff; I think it's probably simplest if the course just tells people that middag = dinner, anything else would get confusing, and it's a quirk of English which isn't really relevant to learning Swedish.


I think that a better question would be that as the evening meal is "middag", should "supper" also be accepted as a correct alternative answer? http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supper?show=0=1420736630


As swedish Wikipedia says the term "middag" refers both to a meal and to a time. MIDDAG (mat): "Middag" är den måltid som brukar intas efter arbetsdagens slut..... MIDDAG (tid): "Middag" ("mitt på dagen) avser den tidpunkt då ett halvt dygn har fortläpt, det vill säga klockan 12:00....

I suggest Duolingo should accept even the answers: "A midday", " a noon"..


middag is very rarely used to refer to the time 12:00 and only under special circumstances. If you see it like this (En middag), as a Swedish native speaker, noon is not what you will think of. A noon sounds strange to me in English.


Actually in England "dinner" is (or used to be) a meal of its own and does not refer to either supper or lunch. The meals of a day go like this:

Breakfast - in the morning Lunch - around noon Tea - in the afternoon, before dinner Dinner - around 5-6pm Supper - in the evening

Now I understand that in the modern world people don't follow this kind of a schedule anymore, but this is where the original meaning of the word comes from, and that makes this information relevant. If you read a book by e.g. Jane Austen, the distinction becomes quite clear. And to my understanding, this is also the concept that the swedish word "middag" refers to, hence middag=dinner.


It's similar to Russian, where they use Breakfast, Dinner, and Supper, but my family uses "Dinner" for lunch, usually.


This is also fairly common terminology with older people in the American Midwest (both sets of my grandparents, for example). I wonder if that has anything to do with the region's huge Scandinavian influence? It wouldn't be the only linguistic holdover.


It was also common in my youth (I'm an older person) in New England from an Irish-Italian immigrant background to refer to lunch as dinner and the evening meal as supper.. So this may not necessarily be a Scandinavian heritage holdover. Perhaps more generically it comes from a European working class background. While usages have moved on today- even in Swedish- see the next post. The more formal language could retain the distinctions


have to agree fully here, as in dutch an german..


Like in very many other countries, the Swedish system for lunch and dinner has changed, and there are still people around who stick to the older system. To avoid confusion, we only teach the modern standard usage of the words.
Today, most people eat the following main meals:
frukost is breakfast, the first meal of the day
lunch is lunch, the second meal of the day, eaten 'in the middle of the day' or at around 12:00.
middag is dinner, the largest meal of the day, normally eaten after the end of the working day.

Apart from these, we have
kvällsmat if you have a simpler evening meal after dinner, it's called kvällsmat
fika is a social institution typically involving coffee and something sweet (read more)
mellanmål is a snack
brunch is the same as in English
supé is a pretentious word for a meal after 20:00


There are also other words for kvällsmat: kvällsfika, kvällsmål. Don't know which ones are used more.


False friend of german or dutch learners


Is the g always silent?


Yes, pretty much, unless you want strong emphasis (and not always then). In the definite form, middagen, you can get it both ways though: [middan] or [middagen].


So, how to call "noon" på svenska?


lunchtid is also noon


I don't think anything should be translated "dinner" as even English speakers can't agree on what that means. I think "lunch" and "supper" should be used as they do not have the confusion in English that "dinner' does. Is middag the meal eaten at noon or 6:00pm?


Middag is eaten around 6, lunch is eaten around 12.


Urban Swedish people (nowadays, I should say, the majority) use "frukost", "lunch", "middag", whereas more rural tradition is "frukost", "middag", "kvällsmat". I myself use the latter standard, but then my children say I am old-fashioned :-) As for the time of day, it is more common to say "mitt på dagen" or "middagstid". "En middag" can only refer to a specific meal, e. g. "en fin middag" (a fashionable dinner) or "en god middag" (a good/tasty dinner).


Confusing. Being Dutch, 'middag' means afternoon in my language. So far Swedish and Dutch were rather alike, and now I'm confused. XD


'Middag' is the main meal of the day. It got its name from 'middle of the day', when we were all farmers, and had our biggest meal around 12 o'clock. But since then lunch has been introduced, taking its place, factory-work etc changed the family traditions, 'middag' being held later and later during the day, until it became an evening meal. The only time you really have time to sit down for your main meal. Often at 17-20 o'clock. But on weekends the family dinner might be earlier, in the middle of the afternoon, when people have enough time to spend together.


Middag = dinner Eftermiddag = afternoon or midday


I got docked for putting "dinner" instead of "a dinner", but to me these are totally different things - "dinner" is the evening meal, and "a dinner" is a gathering to eat out or have a dinner party.

Is the same distinction there in Swedish?


am i the only one who hear middar? is it the usual way to pronounce this word?


No, there is no '-r' at the end. I actually hear the '-g' rather clear here, but I am native speaker of Swedish, so it might not be that clear to anyone else. Furthermore, the usual everyday pronunciation would probably be to just end in -a "midda-" softening the 'g' away.


oh, i guess that explains it. thanks a lot :)


so literally " a mid day" is dinner?


middag used to mean lunch a long time ago. More info in Swedish here: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunch


Does middag refer to the time of day you eat dinner? Because 'Dag' means day right? If thats so, then what does 'Mid' mean?

Sorry so many questions :p


I can't really see if your reply was aimed at me, but I'll just assume it is ;) In Dutch 'dag' means day, yes, and 'mid' just means mid (though in Dutch it's an abbreviated form of 'midden' meaning 'middle'), so 'middag' would be the same as 'mid-day'. It doesn't exactly refer to the time of dinner. With us, midday would be the equivalent of 'afternoon' which just refers to a certain time periode. Whereas 'ochtend' (morning) is 6-12 AM, 'middag' is 12-6 PM (or 12-18h). After that comes 'avond' (evening) which is 6-12 and then 'nacht' (night) 12-6. Evertyhing that's not night (so 6AM-12PM) is also together called 'dag', so day. I love to explain, I love to teach people stuff, so if you have any more questions about Dutch you know where to go.


middag is very rarely used to refer to the time you eat lunch (around 12). mid is the same mid as in English middle.


Lots to learn from the discussion here. Thank you so much.


This is confusing as I'm a Dutch native and the Dutch word for 'middag' is 'afternoon' (mid-day) :P


All this comments go too deep. I just want to know. Does 'middag' in swedish only refer to evening meal? I an confused: german native speaker using duolingo english-swedish.


For most people, Mittagessen is only lunch in Swedish, and middag means the large meal eaten later in the day (English dinner). This is what we teach in the course.


Are dinner and meal interchangeable terms?


No, meal is måltid in Swedish. A meal is any meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner, could be a snack.


"Middag" being "dinner" instead of "lunch" totally confuses me (being a German native).


Why would a lunch be incorrect


Lunch = Lunch Middag = Dinner


But, how are they the same thing


My objection is that previously I translated middag as lunch in a sentence and it was accepted. Be consistent.

[deactivated user]

    In English , the indefinite article (a) would not be used with the noun (dinner) too often.

    Like one would say " I had dinner ", and if one said " I just had a dinner ", it would sound somewhat unnatural, and you would probably have to explain more by saying "I just had a TV dinner" (for example).


    Regardless of lunch or dinner... Bon appetit!


    Why not to add both dinner and lunxh? Since middag is rather a time frame not a kind of meal. And as far as I know you in Sweden don't like to eat much (a point for lunch).


    The normal use of middag is as a kind of meal, dinner. It is rarely used for the time frame. Read more here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/6176753


    My teacher thaught to me that middag is also lunch


    Therefore, "lunch" for "middag" should be accepted as a possible answer!


    I didn't notice that I put the dinner

    Learn Swedish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.