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Thailand Intimacy & Healthy Sexuality Research Report

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ORIGIN OF THE WORD "FARANG"
Women Walking Safely in Bangkok

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 originated 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".

Source: soc.culture.thai FAQ

Women Walking Safely in Bangkok
This question asked on an Thailand newsgroup got a lot of response. Everyone said even an attractive young Western women had little to fear in Bangkok. Don't be drunk etc but its is more safe than in most U.S. cities.

One reply said:
"She should have nothing to worry about. The principal dangers in Bangkok come from crossing the street or from accidentally ingesting river water during ferry crossings."

A women replied:
I was there a number of years ago, as a young 5'7' blonde and walked all over with no problem. It was wonderful. But that does not mean to ignore common sense precautions, and to dress appropriately. And it was during the day that I was about. Patpong was the only place that seemed odd to me, but that should be no surprise, and I was warned about the flea market for pick pockets, but did not go there.

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