“Is Farang really an offensive or racist term? Actually, this word is not of Thai origin. It was probably widespread by the Muslim world during the Crusade. Majority of the Christian army were Franks, an ethnic group whose kingdom occupied approximately modern France. From then on, Europeans were collectively referred to as ‘Frank’ regardless of nationality. Somehow, this word ‘Frank’ entered Thai vocabulary and became read as ‘farang’ as ‘fr’ cluster doesn’t exist in Thai and ‘nk’ is also not allowed in Thai phonology. Coincidentally, ‘farang’ also means ‘guava fruit’.”
This was posted on the Farang Can Learn Thai Facebook page by one of the members, Veradej Wisetjarkhun. This topic comes up regularly and is still debated hotly. The origin of the term has previously been discussed many times. Here is the view of Rikker Dockum on the subject:
‘The short version: farang doesn’t come from the Thai word ฝรั่งเศษ /farangseet/ “Français”, since its use predates the arrival of caucasians in Thailand; nor does it come from the fact that white people have skin like the inside of a guava.
Likely cognates of farang are found in many languages and many countries, stretching from the Middle East out to Oceania. It was almost certainly spread by Persian traders across mainland Asia many centuries ago. Such traders arrived in Siam by the 16th century, bringing along with their wares the word farangi, meaning Westerner or white man, from the Arabic word “faranji”, and ultimately referring to the Germanic tribe the Franks, dating from the crusades, perhaps as early as the turn of the first millennium, AD.’
So what do you think. Is the term offensive or racist?
Please let us know your views by using the comments form below.