“Farang” Is a Beautiful Word
Hello, dear Farang friends. I believe that all of the foreigners in Thailand have heard the word “Farang” a lot. But how many of you understand what really is the meaning of “Farang”? This blog will explain to you about this word.
What is the meaning of the word “Farang”?
In Thailand, we have an easy way to call foreigners which is “Farang” (ฝรั่ง). Actually Farang’s direct meaning is guava the green fruits. It is unclear why the fruit and foreigners are called the same, but I am sure it is not in a negative way. In fact, to the majority of the Thai people, Farang is people who love seeking new cultures, finding a more fun way to do things, and love living with more freedom. That’s why you guys are here in Thailand.
Farang (فرنگ) is a Persian word which refers to Franks, once the major Germanic tribe ruling Western Europe. In the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia “Farang” refers to Europeans.Wikipedia
Franks is the most likely possible source of the word. From the article in Wikipedia, they mentioned France and in Thai, France is called ‘Fa – rang – ses’ in which the front part where it said ‘Fa-rang’ spells exactly the same as the word Farang.
The word Farang is not racist.
Thailand is very open to any religion, race, or sexuality (LGBTQ+ included). We are one of the most welcoming countries no matter who you are. Since we’re welcoming literally everyone, we have to find a way to call people in groups. That’s why the word Farang exists in the first place. We just find a way to call a group of people. There’s nothing to do with racism.
In a video in Thai Talk with Paddy on YouTube, he asked this very same question and the answer is pretty much the same. Racism isn’t even a thing here in Thailand (at least for most of us).
How do Thai people describe “Farang”
“Farang” is the way Thai people use for calling foreigners, but it doesn’t mean all the foreigners. We use this term to call westerners that mostly blue or green eyes, blond or light brown hair. Also, those who look like westerners, we all call you “Farang”. There’s a very formal word though, ‘chao thang shaat’ (ชาวต่างชาติ) which also means foreigner also, but in most cases, this word is way too formal to be used in day to day life.
For Asian foreigners like Japanese, Chinese, or Philippians, we don’t call them Farang, we just call them by their nationality or sometimes the nationality that we think you are.
Interesting Facts about What We Called Asians (At least for me)
Chinese are usually called ‘nuk tong tiew jeen’ (นักท่องเที่ยวจีน) which means Chinese tourists. ‘nuk tong tiew’ means traveler and ‘jeen’ means china.
For Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, or any other Asians, there are 3 ways of calling them.
– ‘Kon’ (คน) which means human or a person, then the country name.
– ‘Chow’ (ชาว) which also means the same as ‘kon’, then a country name.
– Just a country name.
So, for Japanese, ‘kon yee poon’ (คนญี่ปุ่น) or ‘chow yee poon’ (ชาวญี่ปุ่น) or ‘yee poon’ (ญี่ปุ่น). ‘Yee poon’ means Japan. For Korean, it’s ‘kon gao lee’ (g like game, not genius) (คนเกาหลี) or ‘chow gao lee’ (ชาวเกาหลี) or just ‘gao lee’ (เกาหลี).
The fact that we just call a country name instead of nationality is because, in Thai, most of the time, it’s the same word. Japan country is ‘yee poon’. Japanese food is ‘ar han yee poon’. Japanese people are ‘kon yee poon’. There are no such thing as Japanese in Thai language, it’s just Japan rice, Japan Food, Japan country, Japan people.
Chinese are also sometimes called with those 3 ways, but more often I heard, ‘nuk tong tiew jeen'(นักท่องเที่ยวจีน) more than ‘chow-jeen'(ชาวจีน). This is probably just me though, but I do come up with a reason for it. I believe this is because there is a lot of Thai citizens who are actually half Chinese or whole Chinese from their ancestors. So, we call them Chinese tourists because it’s easier to recognize that they’re the Chinese who’s just traveling from China, not Thai-Chinese people who are living here.
One of the images that most of the Thai people think of Farang is that all Farang speaks English. In most of the Thais’ minds (not all but most of us), they think that people from every country in the west can speak English. Even if English is not their formal language, we still think that their second language is English. Therefore, sometimes Thais don’t understand why some Farangs don’t speak English.
Why do many times Farangs see that Thai people are so scared of them?
As you know many Thai people aren’t good at speaking English, that is why when we see Farang, we get scared and won’t talk to you. It doesn’t mean that we see you as some kind of scary stranger, it’s just that we can’t communicate in English, and most Thais don’t have confidence in speaking English, so we are just too scared to communicate with you.
As a result, you can see many times when you want to reach Thais, they try to get away from you. Please don’t take this wrong, it just because Thais are shy to speak English. I believe that in other countries that don’t speak English, they will have the same reaction when they see Farang too.
For Farang who wants to live in Thailand, the country where English speakers can’t be found in abundance may sound hard for you guys. But I believe Thailand is a very livable country. We welcome all of you guys. It is not so hard to live here and be happy in Thailand, the land of smile.
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