Thai Word "Farang"

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Stan Engel

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Mar 31, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/31/98
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People of European extraction are called "farang" in the Thai language. When
I was living over there, the derivation of this word popped up occasionally
in the English language newspapers.

One idea that seems to have been discredited is that the word is a
contraction of the word for French or farangsay (Francais) in Thai. The
thought was that the original Europeans to visit Thailand were from France
and that the Thai simply generalized the word to include all whites.
However, it seems that the Portugese were the first to visit so that's not
the reason.

Another theory published in the Bangkok Post was that the word Farang
derives from a tribe in Pakistan called something like ferengyi.

It seems to me that the English word "foreign" looks a bit _too_ similar to
farang. The "ng" and "gn" combinations tell me that the words have some
common origin. Does anybody know about this.

Also, I remember vaguely a National Geographic article about Ethiopia where
the word for white foreigner was also "farang". It seems odd to me. Can
anyone add to this?

Ross Clark

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Apr 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/1/98
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Not exactly "French", but cognate, and much older. Originally the word
"Frank", borrowed into Arabic apparently at the time of the Crusades,
still something like /franji/ according to my meagre sources on Arabic.
Also known in Persian and various Indian languages, and possibly even in
Chinese. Many citations under FIRINGHEE in _Hobson-Jobson, The
Anglo-Indian Dictionary_ by Henry Yule and A.C.Burnell (1886) -- a
marvelous work now available in a cheap reprint from Wordsworth
Reference.

My personal ambition is to connect this word with /paalangi/, the word
for "European" in the Samoa-Tonga-Fiji region; but there's still a large
geographical and historical gap to cover. Anyone know any other forms
from SE Asia?

Ross Clark

William J. Kammerer

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Apr 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/1/98
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Stan Engel wrote "It seems to me that the English word "foreign" looks a bit

_too_ similar to
farang. The "ng" and "gn" combinations tell me that the words have some
common origin. Does anybody know about this."

Etymology: Middle English "forein", from Old French, from Late Latin
"foranus" on the outside, from Latin "foris" outside, courtesy of WWWebster
Dictionary - Search screen at http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary.


D. Edward Gund v. Brighoff

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Apr 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/1/98
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In article <6fs7bs$f...@bgtnsc03.worldnet.att.net>,
Stan Engel <thori...@worldnet.att.net> wrote:

[snip]


>Another theory published in the Bangkok Post was that the word Farang
>derives from a tribe in Pakistan called something like ferengyi.
>

>It seems to me that the English word "foreign" looks a bit _too_ similar to
>farang. The "ng" and "gn" combinations tell me that the words have some
>common origin. Does anybody know about this.

Halt right there! The English word comes from Latin FORANEUS (from FORAS
"outside") through French 'forain' (which now has the meaning of "itiner-
ant"). There is no connexion to 'farang'.

>Also, I remember vaguely a National Geographic article about Ethiopia where
>the word for white foreigner was also "farang". It seems odd to me. Can
>anyone add to this?

The normal Arabic word for "European; white-skinned foreigner" is
"faranj", a borrowing from a European language (probably Old French) of a
reflex of 'Frank', the Germanic people who conquered Gaul and gave their
name to the French nation. 'Frank' probably comes from a Germanic word
meaning "free", i.e. "one of the free people", and the word probably
entered Arabic during the Crusades.

Through Arabic, 'faranj/farang' (the Classical Arabic sound was between a
'j' and a 'g', so both forms show up in other languages) got carted around
much of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian Ocean. With no real
knowledge of Thai etymology, I had always assumed that 'farang' was a
borrowing of the Arabic word, possibly through the medium of Malay (the
Malays had much closer contacts with Arabic traders than the Siamese).

--
Daniel "Da" von Brighoff /\ Dilettanten
(de...@midway.uchicago.edu) /__\ erhebt Euch
/____\ gegen die Kunst!

Wugi

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Apr 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/1/98
to

Stan Engel wrote:
>
> People of European extraction are called "farang" in the Thai language. When
> I was living over there, the derivation of this word popped up occasionally
> in the English language newspapers.
>
> One idea that seems to have been discredited is that the word is a
> contraction of the word for French or farangsay (Francais) in Thai. The
> thought was that the original Europeans to visit Thailand were from France
> and that the Thai simply generalized the word to include all whites.
> However, it seems that the Portugese were the first to visit so that's not
> the reason.
>
> Another theory published in the Bangkok Post was that the word Farang
> derives from a tribe in Pakistan called something like ferengyi.
>
> It seems to me that the English word "foreign" looks a bit _too_ similar to
> farang. The "ng" and "gn" combinations tell me that the words have some
> common origin. Does anybody know about this.

As stated elsewhere, the "foreign"'s foreign -gn- is some mishap that has
nothing to do with the word's origin or pronounciation.
For completeness, Latin foris is echoed in English door.



> Also, I remember vaguely a National Geographic article about Ethiopia where
> the word for white foreigner was also "farang". It seems odd to me. Can
> anyone add to this?

It's faranj there (j = dzh).
When I was walking around there in 80-81, street boys would, according to
temper of the moment, call out exitedly, angrily, surprisedly, insultingly, but
most of the time with firing tongue tip:
fArrrrrrrrrranj!


Regards

Guido

Mike Cleven

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Apr 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/2/98
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On Wed, 1 Apr 1998 15:20:18 GMT, de...@midway.uchicago.edu (D. Edward
Gund v. Brighoff) wrote:

>In article <6fs7bs$f...@bgtnsc03.worldnet.att.net>,
>Stan Engel <thori...@worldnet.att.net> wrote:
>
>[snip]

>>Another theory published in the Bangkok Post was that the word Farang
>>derives from a tribe in Pakistan called something like ferengyi.
>>
>>It seems to me that the English word "foreign" looks a bit _too_ similar to
>>farang. The "ng" and "gn" combinations tell me that the words have some
>>common origin. Does anybody know about this.
>

>Halt right there! The English word comes from Latin FORANEUS (from FORAS
>"outside") through French 'forain' (which now has the meaning of "itiner-
>ant"). There is no connexion to 'farang'.
>

>>Also, I remember vaguely a National Geographic article about Ethiopia where
>>the word for white foreigner was also "farang". It seems odd to me. Can
>>anyone add to this?
>

>The normal Arabic word for "European; white-skinned foreigner" is
>"faranj", a borrowing from a European language (probably Old French) of a
>reflex of 'Frank', the Germanic people who conquered Gaul and gave their
>name to the French nation. 'Frank' probably comes from a Germanic word
>meaning "free", i.e. "one of the free people", and the word probably
>entered Arabic during the Crusades.
>
>Through Arabic, 'faranj/farang' (the Classical Arabic sound was between a
>'j' and a 'g', so both forms show up in other languages) got carted around
>much of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian Ocean. With no real
>knowledge of Thai etymology, I had always assumed that 'farang' was a
>borrowing of the Arabic word, possibly through the medium of Malay (the
>Malays had much closer contacts with Arabic traders than the Siamese).

To corroborate Ed GvBrighoff's reply, I am posting a reply I received
from a friend in Bangkok after forwarding this thread to him:

______
Some of the people on your language ng might know of Gwyn Williams,
who was a linguistics scholar here in Thailand until his death
recently. He used to write often on the s.c.thai group, and often to
clarify this very matter. I believe that the short synopsis below,
from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, follows pretty closely with
what he used to tell us. One expansion that I can make is that there
were several spellings of the word of origin, things like; ferrenghi,
pharanghe, etc. In fact it's quite likely that Gwyn himself wrote what
follows.

Brian
ORIGIN OF THE WORD "FARANG"
A wide-spread belief in Thailand is that the word "farang"
(Caucasian) is derived from the French word "francais". This
derivation is implausible on phonetic and historical grounds. It is in
fact a popular misconception. It is true, however, that these words
have the same ultimate source.

The word is attested in various forms in languages in Europe,
Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. It is clear
that the word orginated as "Frank" in Europe and spread eastwards
along Muslim trade routes.

Thai most likely borrowed the word from influential Muslim Persian
or Indian traders in the 17th century or even earlier. The Persian
word was "farangg". The term probably was used to refer to early
Portuguese traders and subsequently to all Europeans (ie.,
non-Muslims).

It is possible that the Thai word "farangset" ("French") is a blend
of the word "farang" and the French word "francais", ie., "farangset"
is actually derived from "farang", not vice versa. Certainly, the word
"farang" existed prior to, and independently of, "farangset".


Mike Cleven
http://home.bc.rogers.wave.ca/ironmtn/

The thunderbolt steers all things.
- Herakleitos


dj...@ix.netcom.com

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Apr 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/2/98
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On Wed, 01 Apr 1998 17:58:20 +1200, Ross Clark
<d...@antnov1.auckland.ac.nz> wrote:

<discussion on 'farang' snipped>


>
>My personal ambition is to connect this word with /paalangi/, the word
>for "European" in the Samoa-Tonga-Fiji region; but there's still a large
>geographical and historical gap to cover. Anyone know any other forms
>from SE Asia?
>
>Ross Clark

If it'll help your ambition, the Khmer (cambodian) word is 'parang'
meaning 'french'


Christian P Richard

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Apr 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/4/98
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I thought Farang was a kind of fruit in Thai! :)


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