Is Farang an f word?

Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby THolland on Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:00 am

I’m a Thai, happily married to a Brit for 25 years to be precise and living overseas for 21 years (and still am). It irritates me that a foreigner thinks the word “Farang” is an insult or racist. And to put the record straight, the French were among the first foreign countries that established a relationship with Siam, the former name of Thailand. But the Portuguese and the Dutch were in Siam much earlier than the French. The word“Farang” maybe a derivative of the Thai word for Frenchman in theory (as some believe) but, as far as I can remember from my history lessons as a kid, the first time the word Farang was used was some 400 years ago, to describe Guava fruit which was introduced to Siam by the Portuguese. From then on the word Farang was born and was used to describe everything and anything that comes from or has been introduced by foreign countries i.e. potatoes = man.farang; coriander (not local grown) = pak.chi.farang; chewing gum=maak.farang, etc, etc. So, if a Thai (well educated or not) calls you “Farang” there is no insult or racist meaning attached to it. The word is almost like a brand and a common classifier to simply identify a person as a foreigner (I know that Europeans call people from Asia “Asians” but this isn’t an offensive term). The Thai word “Kon.Taang.Chaat = Foreigner” isn’t commonly used in conversation but only in writing to describes all foreigners.

We Thais never address or call any foreigners from South East Asia or the Asian sub continent Farang, simply because they don’t have blue eyes, big noses, blond hair or a big stature . Instead we addressed them as a person from their country, i.e. Malaysian = Kon.Ma.lay, Indonesian = Kon.indo, Japanese = Kon.yi.poon, etc.

If the Farang word is used differently by describing a character, attitude or manners of a particular individual Farang, well then, yes, that would be an insult and that Farang may probably have offended the Thais badly for them to utter such a word, i.e. Farang.Kwaii.

Yes, Thailand is a developing country and developing rapidly and prosperously. We aren’t very multicultural simply because we haven’t been ruled by a colonial power. We Thais are very proud of that.

For someone who has lived in Thailand for as long as 16 years, and still can’t stand or understand the use of word Farang, you should know better than to object to the use of the word. I would recommend that as one Farang U.S.A. President said: “if you can’t stand the heat then get out of the kitchen”.
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby AjarnV on Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:13 am

Bangna wrote:I find this post to be fantastically ludicrous. Equating the banal and benign term Farang with racial slurs for black and Asian people is insensitive at best and patently racist at worst. Farang does not mean "cracker" which is a racist term used for white people. Being called Farang is absolutely nothing like being called "Cracker".

First and foremost, the notion that all Thai people should use a different term for foreigners simply because you find it more agreeable is very cavalier. So many foreigners come to Thailand with very imperialistic ideas. They believe that they know how to do things better than Thai people. If Thailand is so broken and the people so horribly racist and inconsiderate it's hard to understand why someone would stay. Personally, I have found that Thai people are more considerate than Westerners in general and easier to get along with too.

How well do you speak Thai? Can you really claim to pick up the subtleties of the Thai language? Are you offended when people use the "gin" rather than "tan" to refer to eating or "roo" rather than "sap" when referring to knowing? Do you demand to be addressed using the same class of vocabulary that is typically reserved for royalty?

Have you considered that being Farang is associated with being of a higher social class in Thailand? White skin is thought to be beautiful and the fact that you can immigrate to Thailand means that you have wealth and therefore status beyond that of a majority of Thai people. Being Farang usually leads to special treatment and more often than not Thai people will go out of their way to help. It doesn't logically follow that they would use racist slurs to describe those that they perceive as belonging to a higher social class.

The shred of truth hiding behind your bizarre post is that being Farang in Thailand means never truly fitting in. The term Farang, and its frequent use on the street, is simply a reminder that you are different and are not allowed to fully assimilate into Thai culture. I found this to be challanging at times as well. Sometimes I would go for weeks without using English, I lived in an all Thai neighborhood and would sometimes forget just how different I appeared. It was often a shock to catch my reflection in a shop window; a tall white Westerner standing out in a sea of shorter Thai people. That aside, my Thai friends never made me feel like the odd man out and were always kind and considerate. They used the term Farang routinely, as did I, to refer to Westerners visiting or living in Thailand. I never took offense and they never used the term in a way that made it seem derogatory. My point being is that the term isn't a racist one but it does remind us that we are different and at times that s#cks. (hilariously, s#cks was censored by the forum)


Gotta go along with Bangna on this one. Length of stay means nothing, but attitude is everything. Farang and guava (farang) are the exact same word; I love telling Thai people when the situation is appropriate, "Farang gin farang." It gets a laugh 100% of the time. It's not meant as a racist term; however, if your convinced it is, then it's incumbent on you to change. I mean, do you think you'll change Thailand? :lol:
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby Junglejim on Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:53 am

I think at best it shows a degree of backwardness. The world has moved on from old fashined vast generalization and it's dissapointing that people still think that farang can be an exception. If farang is a 400 year old phrase to describe foreigners then it's about time the people decide a more accurate description. I don't quite see the comparison as a previous writer says that farang equates to westerners calling Asians Asians. Surely, the more accurate comparison would be Westerners, Europeans, Americans or even whites?
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby mele.nani on Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:35 am

Is Jap an insult? My father in law uses this word when we have been gracious and kind to him. He would refuse to take his shoes off in people's homes, because his ways were more civilized. Perhaps he didn't care that this was an insult to the home where he was graciously received. People of every culture, Chinese, Hawaiian, Filipino and local grown whites take their shoes off when they enter someone's home. But ingrained in my father in law, the enemy was the enemy. Slant eyes and buck teeth, coke bottle glasses were Jap. I have even seen Bugs Bunny movies where Bugs says.."Take that you Jap!" as he blasts him. People all over the world insult each other. They are like bullets to the heart. Dear one, the quality of your love an effort do matter. Even my father in law, who I loved dearly did not know that his words sent me into a downwards binge of self abuse. Such is life. We seek t oknow other cultures because we want to grow. We don't get to choose only the good parts of the experience. Blessings for your kind heart.
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby Thulsa Doom on Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:12 am

Farangs / foreigners in Thailand forget that we Westerners use fruity words to decribe Asians such as Thai, Japanese, Chinese and so on. It is especially true with old Westerners (and by young too) who cannot point the difference between a Thai and a Japanese.
In French language for instance , all Asians are named by them "citrons" which means lemons, or by "faces de citron"..lemon faces which is derogatory in a sense. There are no Thai people, Chinese people or Japanese people as it is irrelevant for them. They are only lemons. On the contrary, they will say this foreigner is a German or an Italian if she/he comes from Europe and she/he is Caucasian.

But I agree that it is a lack of education or culture from them and of course the unwillingness to open their own mind....
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby THolland on Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:28 am

Strange that because Farang is a word 400 years old that it’s past its ‘sell by date’. If that is the case, then it’s about time we retired the word ''America''. After all, it’s a name derived from a Florentine explorer (Amerigo Vespucci) 500 years ago and seems to have stuck (or lasted) quite well. I don’t think it’s a name that the indigenous pre-Columbian population in America would have chosen themselves. But they live with it. Just like farangs in Thailand have had no say in choosing what they want to be called. That’s just the way some groups draw the short straw of history. Move on!
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby taysahai on Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:00 am

I think eggmeng may think we are ganging up on him, but truthfully we are just trying to help. I think you need some good thai friends eggmeng to sit down and explain to you.

As a few people already mentioned, and a few people missed it...

Farang. Fa-ran-cet. (thai for France/french) or Fa-ran for short.

Inter for International, is another example of shortening a word.

Farang/Gauva and Farang/foreigner of ... are spelled and pronounced differently in thai, it is not a homophone as it appears to be in english.

The most important thing. the one thing eggmeng is that that the King/ Nai Luang uses the classifier Falang. So you are not going to get very far with your arguments.

Next time to you go to a uk style pub, you can go pretend like you actually give a dam whether the bloke is welsh or british. Some people seem to forget that all of us Falang are all of european descent.
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby AjarnV on Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:53 am

taysahai wrote:I think eggmeng may think we are ganging up on him, but truthfully we are just trying to help. I think you need some good thai friends eggmeng to sit down and explain to you.

As a few people already mentioned, and a few people missed it...

Farang. Fa-ran-cet. (thai for France/french) or Fa-ran for short.

Inter for International, is another example of shortening a word.

Farang/Gauva and Farang/foreigner of ... are spelled and pronounced differently in thai, it is not a homophone as it appears to be in english.

The most important thing. the one thing eggmeng is that that the King/ Nai Luang uses the classifier Falang. So you are not going to get very far with your arguments.

Next time to you go to a uk style pub, you can go pretend like you actually give a dam whether the bloke is welsh or british. Some people seem to forget that all of us Falang are all of european descent.


According to my wife (Thai w/masters and a teacher) farang/guava and farang/foreigner are in fact spelled and pronounced exactly the same in Thai. I have visited this subject with many Thai's (all teachers) and have been told the same thing. Other than that I agree; after 16 years eggmeng is carrying way too big a chip on his shoulders.
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby Jason McDonald on Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:33 am

taysahai wrote:I

Farang/Gauva and Farang/foreigner of ... are spelled and pronounced differently in thai, it is not a homophone as it appears to be in english.

.


My understanding is that ฝรั่ง is used both for guava, white caucasian (not white Thai who are actually whiter than me) and a lot of foreign object brought into the thai culture. As pointed out before.

It is the same word and pronounced the same way.
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby taysahai on Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:40 am

Thanks for the correction Ajarn, a little bit too hasty of a post earlier before my coffee.
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