15 November 2008


You've notice by now my frequent use of the word "farang." Which generally means foreigner. Or so I thought.

In class today, I was given the vocabulary word dtàang-châat which means foreigner.

So I asked if it was synonymous with farang. Mai chai. Farang refers to Westerners. Europeans, Americans. Dtàang-châat refers to foreigners in general.

I didn't clarify whether farangs were non-Asians, to include Africans and Latinos. I want to say it does, but I've already been proven wrong in my assumption.

It reminds me of the Taiwanese word huan-ah, meaning alien. More often than not, it is also used in a deragatory sense, a usage that has coloured my impression of the word farang. I recall a recent conversation with my mother on this topic when she referred to Thais as huan-ah.
Me: Thai people are considered huan-ah?
Mum: Yes.
Me: What about Japanese?
Mum: No.
Me: Why? There are more ethnic Chinese Thais!
Mum: It's just how it is.
Me: What about Koreans?
Mum: No.
Me: Phillipinos?
Mum: No.
Me: Malaysians?
Mum: Yes.
Me: Vietnamese?
Mum: No.
Me: Taiwanese?
Mum: Of course not.
Me: We have more Portuguese and Dutch blood!
Mum: It doesn't matter.
Me: I give up.

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