Storefront Spanish

Abarrotes Driving down Benito Juarez, the main street in Rosarito, can be a Spanish lesson.  At first the barrage of Spanish storefronts was daunting, but over time I’ve learned what most mean.

Flores, copia, licores, dentista, and optica are easy.  Also farmacia.  A favorite is fotografia.  I can easily understand these.  It makes sense to spell “photo” with an “f” rather than “ph”.  Fred, a friend, jokingly signs, Phred.

We know “cerrado” on a door means closed and “abierto” means open.  When you come to a door, don’t push when it says “jale” or pull when the sign says “empujar.”  I associate the “l” in jale with pull and the “pu” in empujar with push.

Some common storefront signs give one pause: carniceria (meat), dulceria (candy), taqueria (taco), and tortilleria (tortilla).  However, knowing that “eria” at the end of a word means “store” opens up a wide variety of words.  For example, a floreria is florist.

PapeleriaBut, not all are as simple.  A few memory techniques will help: bread is baked in a pan, bread is pan.  A panaderia is a bakery, a place where pan is baked.  An easy way to remember that joyeria is a jewelry story is to associate it with the “joy” buying jewelry will bring to one’s wife.  Remember that gritty old soap, Lava?  A lavanderia is a laundromat.  Any business with “lava” has to do with cleaning.  Simple.  A ferreteria is a hardware store (Latin root, “ferre” means iron).  And a tapiceria (tapestry) recovers furniture.  A peluqueria is a men’s barbershop; while estetica is a woman’s hair salon.

Need shoes?  Think tap shoes, rhymes with zap.  A zapateria is a shoe store.  Knowing that cerrado means “closed” helps us understand that cerrejeria is a locksmith, while the word “llaves” means makes copies of keys.  A papeleria is a paper or gift-wrapping store.  Usually they have a stack of brightly wrapped packages outside the door.  A regalos is a small gift store, and llanteria a tire repair shop.  Ice cream is helado, but look for neveria, ice cream shop.  Need a window repaired?  Look for a glass shop, a vidrieria.  A vet?  Veterinaria.Cenaduria

Mercardo means market.  Sometimes  a market has a painted sign: abarrotes (groceries) or alimentos (food) or frutas y verduras–fruit and vegetables.  Knowing “mar”  in mariscos means sea helps identify fish taco stands or tacos pescado, simply fish tacos.

A second hand store is a segunda, meaning second.  And schools are sometimes secundaria schools, or secondary.  Colegio resembles college, but in Spanish it simply means school.

And easiest of all is the universal pizza, a pizzeria.  That seems to need no translation. Remember “eria” at the end means “store” — an assist on the road to learning Spanish.

About Gerry Lidstrom

Gerry Lidstrom is a retired english teacher living most of the year in northern Baja California, and summers in Minnesota. He writes regularly for the Baja Review and keeps very busy with all the associations, clubs and activities in Rosarito. He wouldn't trade his ocean front condo for any place on earth, now. Who knows about the future. Watch for his travel articles.

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