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From: Gwyn Williams Date: 29 Mar 1994 04:24:21 +1000 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". The following is an edited collection of discussions on the origin of the Thai word "farang". PART 1 includes the initial discussion on soc.culture.thai (PART 1). I forwarded the topic to LINGUIST LIST for information on the word in other languages (PART 2). [Editor's note: Both articles are available for anonymous FTP as files the-word-farang-1.txt and the-word-farang-2.txt from ftp.nectec.or.th from directory /soc.culture.thai/SCTinfo/languages.] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Acknowledgements The original soc.culture.thai FAQ was proposed, put together and initially maintained by Thanachart Numnonda (firstname.lastname@example.org). Sincere appreciations for valuable contributions from: Andrew Atzert (email@example.com) for L.2; Gwyn Williams for L.5; Jaray Chomchalao (firstname.lastname@example.org) for L.4; Jessada Jongsukvarakul (email@example.com) for correction to L.4; Lee Hopper (firstname.lastname@example.org) for L.3; Matt Barney (BMF50752@vax1.utulsa.edu) for L.2; Parames Laosinchai (CHLBB@CUNYVM.BITNET) for input to L.1; Putnam Barber (email@example.com) for L.2; Rob Reed (firstname.lastname@example.org) for input to L.1; Samart Srijumnong (email@example.com) for L.3 and translations of poems in L.4; Thinakorn Tabtieng for L.2; Unalome Techamuanvivit (firstname.lastname@example.org) for passing on L.1 and; Wirote Aroonmanakun (email@example.com) for L.1.