The Thai word 'farang' - Thai Language

Even if you can speak no other words of Thai, most European and American visitors to Thailand will quickly become familiar with the Thai word farang (often mispronounced (even by Thais) as falang - farang with a slightly trilled 'r' is the correct pronunciation.) It's basically used to describe caucasians, though African-Americans will sometimes also be known as farang or as farang dam ('black farang'). Farang is also the Thai word for the guava fruit, so you can expect to hear farang eating farang 'jokes' if you happen to purchase any.

Other Asians are generally known by their country of origin (e.g. kon jeen - "Chinese people", kon yee-bpun - "Japanese people"), while people from the Indian Subcontinent are often known as kairk (which translates as "guest"). Kairk is used to describe even fluent Thai speakers of Indian descent who have been living in Thailand for generations and consider themselves as Thai - obviously being referred to as a 'guest' in these circumstances, while not particularly offensive, is not exactly complimentary either.

Some people get very offended at being called farang, but whether it's an insult should or not really depends on the context. A few Thais who are uncomfortable with using it will say kon dtahng bpra-tayt ('people from other countries') instead, but this is still pretty rare. Farang is basically a neutral word, but people who respect you (or who should respect you) will not use it - if you hear a work colleague, for example, refer to you as farang they probably mean it as an insult while a taxi driver or market vendor doing the same is unlikely to mean any offense at all.
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George, If you have problems being called something that you are to them then you are privileged enough to not have any serious problems. You are in their country and you should abide by their customs and language.
' John
Thanks for the great run down of the Thai language in simply terms for simple people like me very helpful. Cheers Ling noi.
' Daniel Cairns
In context farang seems to me to be derogatory. I have seen it used to describe Thai women married to westerners. I had assumed that it was very degrading to be called farang. I assume that calling caucasians by the name of a desirable fruit is intended to suggest that they are favorable prey to be consumed favorably. I don't mind being called a guava. It is better than the terms I use to describe our culture
' George
Hiya, Having travelled thru Thailand and experiencing several instances of your observations about the Thai people, it would have been invaluable to have learn about before hand. Enjoyed reading from start to finish. Sawatdee Khrup
' Dave
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