Is Farang an f word?

Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby Just me P on Sat Aug 01, 2009 1:16 am

I am a Thai who at some point lived and studied in both England and USA. In my opinion, Farang is just a Thai word that means caucasian. I am aware that this word has a questionable origin (from a white fruit), but its use in today language does not represent any real racism by the Thai speakers. Rather, I think it reflects the lack of cultural understanding of many Thai towards foreigners. In other words, many Thai might not even realize that they are offending you by using the word farang. Living in a multi-ethnic society is still quite new for Thailand and we still have a lot to learn here.
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby SiamMania on Sat Aug 01, 2009 7:41 am

I have lived inThailand for 37 years and I have no problem with "Farang". When I lived in Japan for a year they called us "Gaijin". As far as I am concerned “Farang” means Foreigner. Live with it or go someplace where they don't call you "Farang".
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby underbob on Sat Aug 01, 2009 10:40 am

My parents are arab jews from Bagdad Iraq living in America for more than 50 yrs & I'm living in thailand & the closest I get to religion is semi-Buddhist. I'm not really white but I'm called Farang & I am NOT offended. Why get hung up on labels when the important thing is intent? If you call me a cheap farang (which I'm rarely called), the offense should be the word cheap & not the 'farang' part because the word farang is usually said without any ill meaning. So stop worrying about the word -only worry about the intention when it's used in a malicious way & try to be an ambassador for good will & most thais will use the word nicely.
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby keewee on Sat Aug 01, 2009 12:52 pm

I don't find farang offensive at all, but perhaps thats because I was raised in New Zealand where everyone including the media refer to white people with the maori word "Pakeha" which translates to "white devil" Having grown up with that, I find farang far less offensive and it does not bother me at all. In my opinion if it bothers you, then leave.
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby slw on Sat Aug 01, 2009 3:06 pm

Wow,

What a great post. It's all about the "F" word. Our original poster appears to be initially upset by this "racist" term and what it will mean to his little girl as she grow up. He mentions that he has been here for 16 years but still seems bothered by this. I get it, I was too, initially. I've only got 8 years here and speak Thai quite well so I have a vague understanding of the language. I think that it has to do with context as many others have pointed out. How one might view things in the "West" is not the same as how they are viewed here.

I guess it all comes down to choosing your battles. I remember getting quite angry at times at being called falang, but didn't show it - jai yen yen, na! Over time, I realized it's just a term generally used to label a white person. Do some use it in a negative way, yes - get over it if you want to live here. So, let's move on to the child issue. I have two daughters (Thai mother) that appear Indian, and not falang. I can't begin to mention how many times I've heard them called "luuk Khek". Cool, I have little Indian babies. Racist? Not, they have darkish skin and BIG noses - quite cute if I must say so myself, but at least they haven't been branded as falangs ;) Both are a bit older now and have said numerous times that dad is a falang; they don't really seem to have any overt racist tendencies toward me either. I just laugh and let them know that they are in fact "falang-krung", and not luuk krung as they've heard before. Yeah sure, I could school them in that what they are saying is "Politically Incorrect" and that we need to raise the social consciousness of Thais on a collective basis - but who's fight is it anyway, the falangs? I've taken my kids all over the world and they know to respect people regardless of their differences or how they look.

On a side note, I like to joke with the counter girls as they make derogatory comments in Thai about the falang fully assuming I can't speak Thai - Naa Tek!! I'll sometimes even announce my arrival with "falang ma laeo". Yep, one may also occasionally hear a HiSo persons making OBVIOUS racist remarks about someone being white but I guess we just have to live with the fact that it's their country, they're rich as hell and you can't do a damn thing about it - why bother though.

Anyway, I wish the original poster good luck in his quest. I'll just continue to enjoy my life with my Indian kids as a happy falang.

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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby souththailand on Sat Aug 01, 2009 7:32 pm

Great topic, excellent replies. inevitable to get some stick. that's an open forum: \\\ ///// allowed. Of course thais are racist (or xenofobic if you like). The funny thing is, they even don't realize it. So much for 'being very considerate people'. I don't like the f-word either. And guess what, like some other posters, thais never use it when talking to me. So yes, (at least) some know it is a derogatery word.

Loved your comment about educating your little girl so much I'd like to reprint it.

When my little girl is old enough to understand, here's what I'll tell her:

"Sweetie, when you speak Thai, if it's more convenient to say farang when you're referring to Caucasians, please at least say "Khon farang'", just as you would say'; ""Khon Chin", Khon Nippon"; or for that matter "Khon Asia." Because somehow just spitting out the word "farang" makes us sound like fruit, and not people.

I'll also tell my little girl it would be considerate not to unnecessarily draw attention to people's appearance, as it's something one can't always change. For example when we're buying ice cream, it might be more polite to say; "That guy was in line before us'', and not "That man with the mole on his face was here first.'"

"But dad!", she might say, "There's nothing wrong with having a mole on your face, is there?

"No sweetie, but we don't really need to remind that man that we noticed that he looks different from other people, do we?

I can only hope she understands my point of view, and if she doesn't, I''ll have to live with that.

I'm sure not many understand your point of view (the 'I don't like to wait, but enjoy having others wait'-people) but I'm convinced your daughter will. I'll also teach my daughter those basics and who knows, there might be some hope for the future of this wonderfull country.
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby triptrip on Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:15 pm

It's this kind of attitude that makes the divide between Thais and Westerners getting bigger and bigger.

16 years in thailand and not only the original poster did not assimilate into his environment but are picking on something so trivial.

And many here tells me that "Face" is everything to a Thai. I guess many of them are wrong.

Also, isn't the laissez faire attitude of the Thais as opposed to the PCness of the Western world that is the charm here and the attraction that draws many to this exotic land?
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby Hanuman on Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:35 pm

Eggmeng wrote: But I would be content to find a way to explain my point of view to just one child - my little girl - in a way she'll understand.
(...)
OK, defenders of the f word, how about a compromise? When my little girl is old enough to understand, here's what I'll tell her: ..


Well, if you just keep it at that, it might be a good idea. Not because farang is an insulting or racist word, but for the sake of education : this way, your bilingual daughter will be able to educate YOU. Educate you about the fact that farang is a harmless word.

It's quite weird that you hold on to your own definition of farang (a racist word for white westerner) despite Thai people telling you your definition is wrong, that it's not racist or denigrating, that's it's just a word with no inherent negative meaning. Not only that : you don't even believe your wife. You trust your wife well enough to choose her as a life companion, but you don't trust her judgement about the use of a word in HER OWN language, a language which is - even if you would be quite good at it - a lifetime away of being your mother tongue.
You use double standards as well, AND you admit it - but you're so obsessed with your windmill battle that you don't realise it : when Thai people, your partner included, deny that farang is racist or derogatory, you refuse to accept their far more superior command of Thai language. BUT in an attempt to educate some of us farang you write :

Eggmeng wrote:And lest there be any misunderstanding amongst some expat members, a "farang" is a Caucasian. An Indian is not. Nor is a Japanese, a person of Malay descent or any other Asian. Don't take my word for it. Ask a Thai friend.


You bend your advice the way you see fit. Thai are a reference to teach others about one aspect of the word farang, but just the aspect which fits your delusion.


Don't you get the message when you write yourself :

Eggmeng wrote:The f word remains in very wide use. We hear it everywhere and see it in print constantly, even in the mainstream English press. Some of the BP's journalists - including at least one Westerner - continue to use it in their columns. Many Thais (my partner included) and expats in Thailand will insist it is a harmless way of referring to whites, who should not take offense. /.../
When I try to explain why the latter is preferable in almost all cases, I get a blank stare at best, and in the case of my partner, a total refusal to discuss it.


Why do you get a blank stare and a total refusal to discuss it ?
My reaction would also be something like : "What the ... is THIS nutcase talking about, doesn't make any sense at all" if some Asian with very limited knowledge (don't even TRY to convince me that this isn't true : even most of us farang who have so-called good knowledge of Thai are completeluy pathetic at reading an economic report or political analysis in Thai, agreed ?!) of my language would try to lecture me about my so-called wrong use of an innocent word in my language, and accuse me of being racist, he would be very very lucky just to get a blank stare, and in case of my partner who would go on and on about it - despite telling her so many times already that she's wrong about the meaning of the word in MY language, it would burden my relationship and make me question if my partner isn't a nutcase.

Your suggestion that there's a perfectly good alternative for farang, being khon taang chaat (or whichever transcription you'd like to use), or at least change the word farang with khon farang, is ridiculous. You're actually telling 60+million Thais how they should change their way of speaking because of some misunderstanding of YOUR part ??? Ever tried to contact the editors or compilers of Thai dictionaries to offer them your help ? Ever tried to contact linguistics at the Thai universities to enlighten them with your knowledge about the word ?
Trying to change the way Thais should speak, you could as well tell Americans to speak like mister Burns of the Simpsons.

There is no real acceptable alternative for the use of the word farang. Khon taang chaat doesn't even come close to it. The word is so useful that even we farang use it all the time : it certainly beats the only possible contender "Westerner" by far for daily use.

And what could ever be wrong to describe someone by his appearance ? As long as there is no ill intent, why bother ?
You do it yourself by calling your daughter a daughter, instead of "child".

You construct a strawman by giving an English equivalent of chinaman - whereas the word Asian would be a lot more appropriate as a counter example.

Eggmeng wrote:Bad manners (and ignorant) :"Why do Thais think that we farangs...."
Good manners: "Why do the Thais think that we [caucasians, whites, Westerners, Europeans]...blah blah blah." (Take your pick of any of the words in brackets.)


farang DOES mean caucasian, white Westerner etc.. so why would the word farang be racist and the others good manners ? Twisted logic by all standards I'd say. The difference being that in a farang language (at least my language) the word caucasian would be something we use for police reports or anthropological or whatever reasons, but not in daily speech.

There's a perfect word for your state of mind in Thai : it's called "serious". It's a loanword from the English word "serious" but is being used in a very different way, which should once again be an example why you have to be careful not to just translate to whatever you like : you may change the connotation completely.

Can't be fun if you have been holding on for 16 years to a self-imagined negative meaning of an innocent word, to the point it nauseates you (by your own admission). The problem is not that you misunderstand a word, the problem is that after 16 years of Thai telling you otherwise, you hold on to your delusion for life and death.

SLW who just posted previously tells himself how his daughters use the farang word for him - what more proof (on top of what other Thais have been trying to tell you) do you need ?

I think it's time for you to have a beer and lighten up.

In about 7-10 years time your stepdaughter might be able to convince you - because I'm sure otherwise nobody can. My post isn't even meant for you, you live in your own delusional world, but it's meant for other farang who are just beginning to get to know Thailand and just started to get to know the word farang, so that they won't be misinformed by people like you and get the wrong idea about the meaning of the word.

To conclude : when people - both Thai and farang - ask me if I'd rather be born a Thai because i like being in Thailand so much, I always say NO, being born as farang and coming to stay in Thailand is even better.

It's sad to see that even in Thailand we can't escape PC maniacs anymore, and that this nonsense about whining and crying over an innocent word will make Thaise think we farang are even crazier than they thought.
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby Jason McDonald on Sat Aug 01, 2009 11:04 pm

Hi Hanuman,

I can't figure out if you are Thai or Farang that has had the operation?

But in any case I don't think you really understand what some of the people who don't like the term FARANG are talking about.
I admit that the word used to make me angry but not any more However some people find this word very very offensive. So if Thais continue to use it it will offend people. So why would they continue to use the word given that it offends people? Thai people are Jai Yen Yen and don't want to provoke; so why use?? Education my dear chap! That is what is missing here. If Thai people knew how much the word offended people they wouldn't use it. At least not in the derogatory sense that it is used by Thais.

The rest of your argument is not cosistent.

If I were to tap one of my lady emplyees on the bottom and then say I was just being friendly, no sexual intent was mean; I might get away with it once but if I did it 50 times I would be taken to court for sexual harassment. The use of the FARANG word is exactly the same. Say it once OK but say it all the time racist or xenophobic.

(edit) Some people find Farang offensive. That's the bottom line; people find it offensive. If you are a decent person you don't say these words because they offend.
I can only conclude that if Thais continue to say Farang when it obviously offends people then they are NOT decent people.

Enough said on this topic!
Jason
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Re: Is Farang an f word?

Postby Hanuman on Sun Aug 02, 2009 2:18 am

Jason McDonald wrote:Hi Hanuman,

I can't figure out if you are Thai or Farang that has had the operation?

But in any case I don't think you really understand what some of the people who don't like the term FARANG are talking about.
I admit that the word used to make me angry but not any more However some people find this word very very offensive. So if Thais continue to use it it will offend people. So why would they continue to use the word given that it offends people? Thai people are Jai Yen Yen and don't want to provoke; so why use?? Education my dear chap! That is what is missing here. If Thai people knew how much the word offended people they wouldn't use it. At least not in the derogatory sense that it is used by Thais.

The rest of your argument is not cosistent.

If I were to tap one of my lady emplyees on the bottom and then say I was just being friendly, no sexual intent was mean; I might get away with it once but if I did it 50 times I would be taken to court for sexual harassment. The use of the FARANG word is exactly the same. Say it once OK but say it all the time racist or xenophobic.

(edit) Some people find Farang offensive. That's the bottom line; people find it offensive. If you are a decent person you don't say these words because they offend.
I can only conclude that if Thais continue to say Farang when it obviously offends people then they are NOT decent people.

Enough said on this topic!
Jason


WOW !!
comparing the perceived insult of using the word farang with the harrasment of groping women... nice one ! Next you'll tell me that you feel groped when someone uses the word farang. 5555

60+ million people use a word which is harmless and has no negative connotation, then suddenly SOME of the farang come to THAI-land - NOT FARANG-land, and those farang can't stand using hearing that word 50 times, so at the whim of this part of the farang, all other farang and 60+ million people should change their vocabulary. Talking about neo-colonialism at it's finest.
The whole problem is, that BY YOUR OWN admission, I quote "Some farang find farang offensive"

But if WE would find it offensive that people like you accuse millions of Thai and a good part of the farang of being racist, would you then also stop whining about "farang word being offensive", because this direct and indirect accusation of racism offends us ?

And if a few fools would start feeling offended because we have to use... well, I have no idea what you would use instead of farang, but let's say "pale foreigner", then all the 60+ million people will have to change words again ?

You come to another country, and you IMAGINE some offence which isn't there, and then instead of you admitting that you understand it wrongly, all native speakers and the majority of farangs should invent a new word, just because your sweet soft baby skin can't handle normal daily used words ?

Jason McDonald wrote:I can only conclude that if Thais continue to say Farang when it obviously offends people then they are NOT decent people


they are decent people, because they just allow you the foolishness to let you be offended and whine about it. If it were up to me and someone would whine 16 years about some word in my language that he can't even speak properly, I wouldn't be so decent - to describe it nicely.

My girlfriend has at her 39 yrs of age has never ever ever quareled with anyone in her life and is completely uncapable of using rude or insulting words : has never ever ever used any such words in her life. Period. When talking to me she still uses the words kha ค่ะ or thaan ทาน etc... because she can't be anything else but being nicely polite.
So you tell me that SHE has to change her frequent use of the word farang because YOU are a paranoid delusional nutcase refusing to accept the meaning of some words in a foreign language ?
It's one thing not to like something, it's another to demand a foreign nation to change their language because you just happen to imagine something.

I can only be happy that Thailand is so strict about their laws re farang, and wouldn't even mind being tougher even. ********
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