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Farang

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Title: Farang  
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Farang

The tourist hub of Bangkok's Khaosan Road is associated with farang.

Farang (Thai: ฝรั่ง  ) is a generic Thai word for someone of European ancestry, no matter where they may come from. The Royal Institute Dictionary 1999, the official dictionary of Thai words, defines the word as "a person of white race".[1]

Edmund Roberts, US envoy in 1833, defined the term as "Frank (or European)."[2] People of mixed African-European descent were called farang dam (Thai: ฝรั่งดำ; 'black farang') to distinguish them from white people. This began during the Vietnam War, when the United States military maintained bases in Thailand. The practice continues in present-day Bangkok.[3]

Contents

  • Etymology and related words 1
  • Other uses 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Etymology and related words

Farang statue in Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand

The word farang may have originated with the Persian word farang (فرنگ) or farangī (فرنگی), meaning "Frank, European". This in turn comes from the Old French word franc, meaning "Frank", a West Germanic tribe that became a political power in Central Europe during the early Middle Ages, and from which France derives its name. Because the Frankish Empire ruled a large part of Europe (France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Low Countries) for centuries, all Europeans and even Middle Easterners associated the word "Frank" with Latins who professed the Roman Catholic faith. Frangistan (Persian: فرنگستان‎‎) was a term used by Muslims and Persians in particular, during the Middle Ages and later periods, to refer to Western or Latin Europe.

According to Rashid al-din Fazl Allâh, farang comes from the Arabic word afranj.[4] In Ethiopia faranj means white/European people. In either case, the original word was pronounced paranki (പറങ്കി) in Malayalam, parangiar in Tamil, entered Khmer as barang, and Malay as ferenggi. From there the term spread into China as folangji (佛郎機), which was used to refer to the Portuguese and their breech-loading swivel guns when they first arrived in China.

Other uses

Farang is also the Thai word for the guava fruit, introduced by Portuguese traders over 400 years ago, which of course can lead to jokes when foreigners are seen eating a guava in Thailand. Farang khi nok (Thai: ฝรั่งขี้นก) is a particular variety of guava, feijoa. Scruffy Westerners, especially backpackers, may also be called farang khi nok. This means "bird-shit farang", as khi means waste and nok means (wild) bird; but, while khi nok may mean guano, it is also a species of fish, Diagramma pictum, a species of grunts Haemulidae.[5]

Varieties of food/produce which were introduced by Europeans are often called farang varieties. Hence, potatoes are man farang (Thai: มันฝรั่ง), whereas man (Thai: มัน) alone can be any tuber; culantro is called phak chi farang (Thai: ผักชีฝรั่ง, literally farang cilantro/coriander); and chewing gum is mak farang (Thai: หมากฝรั่ง). Mak (Thai: หมาก) is Thai for betel, which many rural Thais chew for the euphoria it gives.

In the Isan Lao dialect, the guava is called mak sida (Thai: หมากสีดา), mak being a prefix for fruit names. Thus bak sida (Thai: บักสีดา), bak being a prefix when calling males, refers jokingly to a Westerner, by analogy to the Thai language where farang can mean both guava and Westerner.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Eromosele, Diana Ozemebhoya. Being Black in Thailand: We’re Treated Better Than Africans, and Boy Do We Hate It. The Root. 2015-05-26. URL:http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2015/05/black_in_thailand_we_re_treated_better_than_africans_and_boy_do_we_hate.html Accessed: 2015-05-26. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6YpQxWRbF
  4. ^ Karl Jahn (ed.) Histoire Universelle de Rasid al-Din Fadl Allah Abul=Khair: I. Histoire des Francs (Texte Persan avec traduction et annotations), Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1951. (Source: M. Ashtiany)
  5. ^ ThaiSoftware Dictionary Version 5.5 by ThaiSoftware Enterprise Co., Lrd. www.thaisoftware.co.th www.thaisoft.com
  6. ^

External links

  • Farang in the Concise Oxford Dictionary
  • , Pattaya, ThailandDer FarangGerman language bi-monthly magazine, published by
  • The Thai word "Farang", its variations in other languages, and its Arabic origin
  • Farang: A Nature Mockumentary (ใจดีทีวี ตอนฝรั่ง) This Thai language mockumentary on the farang is a spoof of the Thai educational TV series กระจกหกด้าน Krajok Hok Dan (Crackers)
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