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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: maskrosbarn

Today's word of the day literally translates to English as "dandelion child". But what is a dandelion child, and where does the term come from?

Swedish word of the day: maskrosbarn
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Today’s word of the day is a compound made up of two separate nouns. The first part of the word, maskros, translates literally as “worm rose” and is the Swedish word for dandelion. The second element, barn, is the Swedish word for child.

So, what is a maskrosbarn or “dandelion child”? The term refers to a child who has a challenging or unstable home life or childhood, but who thrives despite this, in the same way that dandelions can grow through tarmac and thrive in difficult conditions.

You may have heard the term before – there is a charity with the same name which works with maskrosbarn who may be the children of parents with addiction problems, experience violence at home or who may suffer from a mental illness.

According to the Maskrosbarn charity, 500,000 children in Sweden have a parent with an addiction problem or mental illness which puts them at risk, or a parent who physically abuses them. The charity provides support to 100 children and young people per week, such as by providing them with counselling, coaching programmes or opportunities to meet others in the same position.

One former maskrosbarn is actor and comedian Morgan Alling, who had a difficult childhood spent in multiple foster homes where he was bullied and subject to physical abuse, until, ultimately, he was placed with a foster father who accepted him and provided an environment where he could thrive.

Alling has since written a biography titled Kriget är slut (The War is Over) about a his experience of being a maskrosbarn and how discovering his love for theatre paved the way for his future success.

Example sentences:

Han är ett äkta maskrosbarn, han hade en otroligt svår uppväxt men har klarat sig trots allt.

He’s a true dandelion child, he had an extremely difficult childhood but has done well for himself despite everything.

Min skola hade en föreläsning från Maskrosbarn i dag, de pratade om vem man kan prata med när man inte mår bra.

Maskrosbarn held a lecture at my school today, they spoke about who you can talk to if you’re not doing well.

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.

If you know a child or young person who is struggling and needs help, they can contact Maskrosbarn at maskrosbarn.org. If you are interested in donating to Maskrosbarn to support their efforts, you can do so here.

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For members

SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: i förrgår

Swedish is very effective when it comes to talking about time. Today's word of the day will help you to be specific about past events.

Swedish word of the day: i förrgår

Förrgår is one of a number of Swedish words that can relate to a point in time — in either the past or present — by using the (literally, “in”) preposition, giving some precise terms that aren’t found in English.

It means “the day before yesterday”, and is made up of the word for “yesterday”, “i går”, and the preposition “för” meaning “before”.

Over time, this phrase “för i går” meaning “before yesterday” most likely became “förrgår”.

It must be preceded by a preposition, i, to mean “the day before yesterday”, resulting in the phrase i förrgår.

You may also come across the phrase “i förrgårs” – this is a more archaic variant of i förrgår, most commonly used in southern Sweden. Danish and Norwegian have both kept the -s here, both using the phrase i forgårs to mean “the day before yesterday”.

You can use a similar construction with the preposition and the suffix -s to talk about past seasons, too – i våras, i somras, i höstas and i vintras mean “last spring”, “last summer”, “last autumn” and “last winter”, respectively.

Similar words for the day before yesterday also exist in German – vorgestern (literally, “before yesterday”), and Dutch eergisteren (similar to the archaic German term ehegestern, also meaning “before yesterday”).

In fact, this term did once exist in English, too – the Old English word ærgistran, also meant “the day before yesterday”.

This term became ereyesterday, consisting of ere, an archaic word meaning “before” or “earlier”, and yester, meaning “last”, as in yesterday or yesteryear.

Ereyesterday has also become an archaic term in English, which you are most likely to come across in old literature or archaic translations of the Bible.

You can also use the phrase i övermorgon in Swedish to talk about time – it means “the day after tomorrow”, and consists of över (“above” “over” or “across”) and “morgon” (“morning” or “tomorrow”, literally the Swedish version of the archaic English word “morrow”).

Like with förrgår, this term also used to exist in English – “overmorrow”, although it has also fallen out of fashion and been replaced with the phrase “on the day after tomorrow”.

Again, it must be preceded by a preposition, i.

The roots of övermorgon are from German, übermorgen, meaning “later than tomorrow” but also used for “the day after tomorrow”.

Example sentences

Visst skulle vi ses med Linda och Peter i förrgårs? Nej, vi ska ut med dom i övermorgon.

We were suppsed to see Linda and Peter the day before yesterday, weren’t we? No, we’re going out with them the day after tomorrow.

När lagade du den lasagnen? Jag lagade den i förrgårs, så den är nog fortfarande okej att äta.

When did you make that lasagne? I made it the day before yesterday, so it should still be fine to eat.

By Emma Firth and Becky Waterton

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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