confused by fruits in Barcelona

Federico Escobar federicoescobarcordoba at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 15 00:34:33 UTC 2010

I can't answer the questions about Catalan, but the puzzlement you are
experiencing with fruit terms in Spanish is a common experience for speakers
of Spanish. The language is treacherously fragmented when it comes to food
vocabulary. It is difficult to have a fluid dialogue about food (and
clothing, but that's another matter) across regional boundaries, which can
exist within a same country in Latin America and notoriously between Latin
American countries and Spain. A single example will serve: in Spain, beans
are commonly called "judías"; in Colombia, they are called "fríjoles" (or
frijoles, with the accent on the penultimate syllable); in Puerto Rico, they
are called "habichuelas". If you try using these terms in different places,
you're likely to get puzzled looks or a whole different product.

Your instinct is right about "toronja", which does mean "grapefruit" in what
we could call normative Spanish. An official (state-funded) Catalan
translator reports "aranja" as the translation for "grapefruit" and
"taronja" as the translation for "orange." You can find the translator here:
And you can see what fertile ground there is for interfruit and
interlanguage confusion.


On Fri, May 14, 2010 at 3:55 PM, <ronbutters at> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       ronbutters at AOL.COM
> Subject:      confused by fruits in Barcelona
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> We are not alone with these problems. I just had dinner in a restaurant in
> Barcelona where "naranja" in Spanish was translated as "toronja" in
> Catalan--which  (if my memory is correct) means 'grapefruit' in Spanish.
> Further complicating matters, the Catalan word for 'grapefruit' is close in
> pronunciation (or so I was told) to "taronja" (somebody who knows these
> languages better than I do can perhaps sort out the spellings for me?).

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