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Gaijin, Farang, Gweilo


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#1 กำนัน

Posted 22 October 2005 - 04:29 AM

Gaijin

1. In Japanese, the word means, literally, "outside person". It is often used as a contraction of sorts for gaikokujin ("outside-country person"), meaning forienger. In its contracted form it can be an insult, but in recent years has been watered down by widespread use in and out of Japan. In actual usage, a better definition would be "non-Japanese" since Japanese people will use it in reference to non-Japanese even when they themselves are the foriegners in a country other than Japan.

Gweilo

vaguely pejorative Cantonese slang for foreigner. Translations differ depending on who you ask. Apparently it was once meant to mean "foreign devil" (an extreme insult), but usually these days is said to mean "ghost man" due to white foreigner's pale skin and is used as a general term to mean foreigner. Gweilos get upset about being called this. Chinese think it's no big deal.

Farang

Thai word for white people or Westerners, generically referring to non-asians. Generally used without derogatory connotation.

Bok See Dah

Lao word for 'Farang'

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In this thread, I want to establish how you feel about Asian words used to refer to Westerners. Sure, you've probably had this conversation before but I want this to be the definative thread.
Perhaps in the West, we are a little too PC and tread on eggshells over words that are often used as humourous and friendly ways to address foreigners. On the other hand, there are words that are clearly racist and insulting.
The above are a selection of well known words for Westerners in Japan, China, Thailand and Laos. I would like to know of more so that I can learn.
How do you feel about being referred to in this way? From my point of view, when I spend long periods in rural Thailand, I grow very weary of locals who see me every day refer to me as 'The Farang', even though they know my name. Worse still, they will often refer to me as such when talking to my partner as though I wasn't even there. To me, it is insulting and I am deeply offended by it in the long term. I feel it is no better in this case than being called n##ger, long nose, roundeyes, whitey, spick, polak, kraut etc etc etc.

However, if you don't spend much time in a country I guess it can be humourous and fun to have a bunch of schoolkids shout 'Farang Farang' at you in the most innocent way possible and to be seen as a curiosity and in that case, what's the problem?... but when does it get too much for you, when your name effectively becomes 'Farang'?

As I said, please fill me in on the words used in other countries if you can and please tell me how you feel.

#2 mbk

Posted 22 October 2005 - 04:37 AM

My favorite south of the border term is 'Gringo.' Used by Mexicans for whites much in the same way Thais use the word, 'Farang'; in a non threatening, almost term of endearment to establish friendship. I don't take any of it seriously. I've had blacks in the US come up to me (white, pasty, bastard) and say, "Sup, nigga!"
:starwars:

#3 กำนัน

Posted 22 October 2005 - 04:39 AM

This is my point mbkudu. Are we often just too uptight in the West?
... am I wrong to get angry when the entire village flatly refuses to call me Mandrunk?... after 2 years?!!! To comment 'My name is Mandrunk' just results in a confused face.

#4 mbk

Posted 22 October 2005 - 04:57 AM

Two years is a long time. :starwars:  The people in my wife's village who know me call me by my name, but those who are not close to me, call me 'Farang'. Not a big deal. My wife thankfully has never called me 'farang' or referred to me as 'farang' when talking to her friends or other people; she says my name or the word for spouse, 'fan'.

#5 กำนัน

Posted 22 October 2005 - 05:12 AM

My situation is the same. Close family and a couple of neighbours call me Mandrunk, the rest of them say 'You, Farang' to get my attention (even though I can speak to them with my limited Thai)

No problem, I'll just refer to the rest of them as 'Thai A, Thai B, Thai C' etc etc until they get the message.

#6 Stocky

Posted 22 October 2005 - 05:30 AM

When I first started in South Africa the terms 'Roi nek' and particularly 'Soutie', or 'sout peel' - salt dick, used to p*ss me off.  But you get used to it and begin to spot when it's meant as an insult and when it's meant in a friendly way.

Walking into a village in Ghana you expected hordes of kids shouting 'Brunie' and begging for some sweets or small money it was part of the fun.

Since then I've had 'Mazungu' in Swahili speaking countries, 'Orang-puteh' or 'Matt Sally' in Malaysia and of course 'Farang' in Thailand.

It doesn't bother me, it's just a part of the cultural experience.  But I agree that when someone knows your name but persists in calling you by the collective term you can only really consider that as very insensitive or a deliberate insult.

#7 Stocky

Posted 22 October 2005 - 05:53 AM

I forgot Russia.

Anyone who speaks English here is automatically 'Amerikanski'.
Now that is annoying!
  :starwars:

#8 Thaibebop

Posted 22 October 2005 - 06:22 AM

Mandrake I think you should be mad. As was stated before if the person calls you farang and is just being friendly then there is nothin g to get mad over. But what these people are doing is placing you in a 2nd class citizen postition. They don't speak to you just about you. They don't allow you to have your name but the one they give you. This isn't about being called farang, this is a matter of face. They are not allowing you face. I wouldn't answer to that name period and I would ask my wife to start telling them to use my name and help defend you when these people speak about you like a stray dog.

#9 TRIPxCORE

Posted 22 October 2005 - 06:25 AM

[color="#990000"]It doesn't bother me much to be referred to in this manner.  I just laugh it off as ignorance much in the same way as I would use insulting words to refer to others of a different race when I was 13!  Only difference is most of the current instances where the people using it against me are not kids and I was when doing this. [/color] :starwars:

#10 Neeranam

Posted 22 October 2005 - 06:34 AM

The word, "farang" doesn't bother me, but it took years to not. What bugs me is Thais thinking I am a holiday maker, and not speaking to me when my wife is there and asking her questions like, "where does he come from" etc and discussing farang culture.

#11 Thaibebop

Posted 22 October 2005 - 06:37 AM

Another example of what I was writing about Mandrake. My wife did this with me once and I let her speak to her friend until she was done and then when we were along I told her to never do that again. It's just insulting and Thai people know better. Such behaviour is addressed in the cultural as well.

#12 francois

Posted 22 October 2005 - 06:54 AM

View PostThaibebop, on Oct 22 2005, 08:22 AM, said:

Mandrake I think you should be mad. As was stated before if the person calls you farang and is just being friendly then there is nothin g to get mad over. But what these people are doing is placing you in a 2nd class citizen postition. They don't speak to you just about you. They don't allow you to have your name but the one they give you. This isn't about being called farang, this is a matter of face. They are not allowing you face. I wouldn't answer to that name period and I would ask my wife to start telling them to use my name and help defend you when these people speak about you like a stray dog.
hi'
I'll second this for a big part of it ...
it'a typical attitude from people who had been taught in school that there were the best, in different ways and different education systems.
without any "backthoughts", people from Israel used to call the non-jewish, "goy", and so what:huh:

even in my village(here in france) people used to called the tourists by a special name in the local language ... nothing serious, but it exists and be heard everyday in touristic season ...

and to finish, the french during the indochina war that ended in 1954 used to call the peasant overthere "nyakouey" (written in french "niahoué", a very respecfull way to call the locals :read:
and what was the vietmin for the french became the vietcong for the american ...

so, I'm very "in between", I don't mind people calling me farang when they don't know me(ie:in a bus), but in the village where you live is ...  ;)
they know you for long, they know your name and often gave you a thai one, but in so many occasion when needed to refer to you, it is "the farang" ... in your back!

never been called like this by real good friends (at least in front of me and never heard of a saying in my back) :D

does it mean that they can respect you a bit when they know you? but if they don't you are just a "farang" for them ...  :starwars:

francois

#13 Stocky

Posted 22 October 2005 - 07:07 AM

View Postfrancois, on Oct 22 2005, 02:54 PM, said:

even in my village(here in france) people used to called the tourists by a special name in the local language ... nothing serious, but it exists and be heard everyday in touristic season ...
That happens in the UK, the Cornish call a tourist or outsider an 'Emit', in Devon they're 'Grockles'.

Edited by Stocky, 22 October 2005 - 07:08 AM.


#14 Axel

Posted 22 October 2005 - 07:53 AM

The words don't bother me, it's the sound that makes the music.

If in any language one is referred to in a derogatory voice as that foreigner
that one thing  :starwars:
but just Gaijin (or better giajin-san) Gweilo, farang is ok.

Actually, l the very first time some people in Japan where referring to my friend and me always as gaijin and finally I asked what it means. They have been really in effort to explain, that it has no bad meaning.

But in Japan same story, all gaijin must be Americans. Now this is annoying
until I tell them 'doitsu-jin'. (German)  :read: which immediately brings associations to
Benzu (Mercedes).

#15 Thaibebop

Posted 22 October 2005 - 08:10 AM

Why benz, I always thought BMW was a better car. :starwars:

#16 Axel

Posted 22 October 2005 - 08:31 AM

Benz is German, BM-double Bavarian  :starwars:

#17 britmaveric

Posted 22 October 2005 - 11:48 AM

No I use Mandrakes approach - you thai. They get the message after a while and ask why you say "you thai". Why you say farang? Same Same. Anyways its a game to me, so turn the tables on them and have a bit of fun wth it instead of being annoyed.  :starwars:

#18 Boon Mee

Posted 22 October 2005 - 11:49 AM

Unfair questions as the level of prejudice is different between them.
To be called a 'Farang' is not a negative term nor is Gaijeen(sp).
Ni**er is all together a different story.

#19 yorky

Posted 22 October 2005 - 12:51 PM

I didn't know which button to press.

"Don't give a sh*t" doesn't appear on my screen.

All I complain about is a few members on here (no names) call me an alkie!

:starwars:

#20 MekhongKurt

Posted 22 October 2005 - 12:59 PM

After most of the past 20 years here in Asia -- the first 7 of them married to a native of Beijing (where we met and married) -- I keep trying to tell myself that terms such as gaijin, gweilo, yanguize (the Mandarin equivalent of gweilo), and farang are harmless references to people not from Japan, China, or Thailand.

But I don't buy it, instead finding the use of such terms offensive, though I find both farang and gaijin far less offensive than either the Cantonese or Mandarin terms.

Yanguize means "foreign devil," period.  Mandarin speakers will try to tell you it means foreigner -- but it doesn't; the term for foreigner in Mandarin is weiguoren -- "outside country person," similar to the Japanese.  It's 3 characters, and if you look them up in a Chinese English dictionary, that's exactly what the 3 characters mean, with explication.  That is, they translate, roughly, as something like "across-the-ocean-person," but historically to be such a person is to be a barbarian, and to be a barbarian is to be a devil, and since, by definition, such devils are foreign, they are foreign devils.

Yes, gweilo has come to mean ghost person in Cantonese.  But when I last lived in the mainland I lived in Guandong province, and while I never learned to speak more than a few words of the dialect, Chinese who befriended me eventually admitted that while the commonly accepted notion amongst Chinese for the meaning was ghost person, it is a term of [fearful] disrespect, the fearful part being tied into the notion of one's being a ghost.

As one who taught English and business communications in Asia many years, I am well aware of the significance of tone of voice, body language, social context, etc. to the precise meaning of terms.  To use an English example, it's one thing for me to see an fellow native speaker of English with whom I am close friends but whom I've not seen for a long time to say something like, "Hey, you old S.O.B., I haven't seen you in a month of Sundays!" with a slap on the back and a smile than it is for me to say it with my arms folded, legs spread, a frown on my face, and a menacing tone in my voice.  And I accept the same applies to all the terms under discussion in this thread.

In the case of Chinese, regardless of dialect, the true underlying attitude is revealed in other ways.  Though my Mandarin is limited, I can go into a Chinese restaurant in the U.S. (my original homeland) and, if the waiter's English is even worse than my Mandarin (which takes some doing!  and I successfully speak to him in Mandarin, it irks me no end for him to turn to another employee and exclaim "He speaks the national language" or "He speaks the common language!" [the latter being the Mandarin version of the former].  Of course I speak what is the de facto national language of the U.S. -- English.  (Okay, in deference to my numerious friend who are Citizens of Empire, I'll say I speak American!   :starwars: )  In any case, the "national language" of the U.S. is most assuredly *not* any Chinese dialect.  "National language" meaning "Chinese" applies only in places such as the mainland, including Hongkong and Macau, and Taiwan.  And I'm not the least bit shy, in the U.S., of pointing this fact out to the native speaker of Chinese.

Finally, some of my friends from various Asian countries, but especially China, have been stumped when I've asked them just what term I can use to refer to them by the regional, national, or ethnic identity.  Using people of Chinese extraction as one example, some have objected even to "Chinese," Asian," Oriental," or the pretty much obselete "Asiatic."  That leaves the obviously objectionable terms such as "Chink" and "coolie."  I'm reduced to saying ". . . my friend from Beijing" or some such.  Yet they can at least call me an American or a foreigner or a Westerner without offending me; why insist on calling me something derogatory?  If they don't know me, they have no basis for the implied judgement; if they do know me, they know I object.

The comment has been made that sometimes we are too uptight, and I have to agree with that.  One of my best Thai friends sometimes sees me and booms out, "Hey, farang, how are you?" and I know he is simply showing his affection and his knowledge that our friendship of many years' standing is strong enough to make such a greeting entirely appropriate and acceptable.  But he's a *close* friend, not just a casual acquaintance I see every now and then nor a stranger.  I have thick eyeglasses and would take offense from someone of my own ethnic group and nationality, even local identity, were that person to say, "Hey, four eyes!" unless that person was just as close a friend as my Thai running mate.

At this late date, I don't expect I'll ever believe either local excuses or foreign justifications.  But, hey, that's only one person's take, and everyone has to choose his own way. . . .

#21 yohan

Posted 22 October 2005 - 02:27 PM

View PostMandrake, on Oct 22 2005, 01:29 PM, said:

Gaijin
1. In Japanese, the word means, literally, "outside person". It is often used as a contraction of sorts for gaikokujin ("outside-country person"), meaning forienger. In its contracted form it can be an insult, but in recent years has been watered down by widespread use in and out of Japan. In actual usage, a better definition would be "non-Japanese" since Japanese people will use it in reference to non-Japanese even when they themselves are the foriegners in a country other than Japan.
2. Insulting Japanese term that essentially means 'dirty barbarian'. While an insult coming from the mouth of a Japanese person, other foreigners in Japan will readily refer to themselves and others as Gaijin. Much like Blacks in America use the 'N' word to show unity, so do the foreigners in Japan.
3. If you call someone "Wapanese" & mean it as an insult, they will call you a "gaijin" & mean it as an insult.
When used by non-citizens in Japan or anyone not in Japan, it's an insult meaning "uncultrued dumbass" rather than "foreigner."
I never heard the word 'wapanese' in Japan - some people from the US might use the word Jap, but it refers also to Japanese living in the US.
I also never heard an insult considered like 'dirty barbarian' from a Japanese.

Japanese are using other insults and such words are mostly directed towards Korean or Chinese and other Asians, rarely towards Western foreigners.

The word GAIKOKU means ABROAD, and the word GAIKOKUJIN means a person from abroad.
There is also a word KOKUGAI = outside of Japan and KOKUNAI = inside of Japan and KAIGAI = abroad (kai = ocean)
It is very frequent to shorten words in both, spoken and written, by ommitting the second Chinese character, as the meaning is clear.

For example the official word is GAIMUSHO = Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Nobody would use the term  GAIKOKUJIMUSHO....
Same is done with many other words, like TSUSHOSANGYOSHO will become TSUSANSHO = Trade Ministry....
tsusho=trade sangyo=industry

The word GAIJIN is not offensive, my Japanese family members will use that term, when talking to another person about me. I am calling Japanese living in the US and visiting us in Japan GAIJIN ....nothing wrong with that.

Quote

MekhongKurt Posted Today, 09:59 PM
the term for foreigner in Mandarin is weiguoren -- "outside country person," similar to the Japanese
Yes, EXACTLY the same. WeiGouRen = Gaikokujin - same Chinese character.


Quote

Axel Posted Today, 04:53 PM
But in Japan same story, all gaijin must be Americans. Now this is annoying
until I tell them 'doitsu-jin'. (German)  .......
In Japan some people do not know what is a map of this world....

But not all foreigners are  'Americans'...
People from Austria are 'osutoraria-jin'. (Australia) but sometimes mixed up with New Zealand, when I explain, Austria is next to Germany.

Much more difficult is it for people from East Europe, like Czech or Serbian....they are considered to come from Yugoslovakia

The relatively new term EU = Europe is however widely understood by ordinary people in Japan.
Take it easy, even not thinking about it. Usually there is no bad intention by Japanese, who are using all these funny terms.

#22 TRIPxCORE

Posted 22 October 2005 - 02:56 PM

View PostMekhongKurt, on Oct 22 2005, 05:59 AM, said:

[b]After most of the past 20 years here in Asia -- the first 7 of them married to a native of Beijing (where we met and married) -- I keep trying to tell myself that terms such as gaijin, gweilo, yanguize (the Mandarin equivalent of gweilo), and farang are harmless references to people not from Japan, China, or Thailand.


[color="#990000"]Didn't want to copy your entire quote as it was rather long but I thought your post was very informative and concise.  It sounds like you will be a very good source of information about China here Kurt.[/color]  :starwars:

#23 mbk

Posted 23 October 2005 - 02:28 AM

You can let it torment you to your grave or just let it go.

#24 กำนัน

Posted 23 October 2005 - 04:42 AM

So, next time someone asks me who the manager is at work, I can tell them it's that darkie over there next to the paki, with impunity? Or next time I see the bus driver I can say to him 'Hi there gollywog' safe in the knowledge that they'll see the funny side.... right?

#25 Stocky

Posted 23 October 2005 - 05:58 AM

errrrrrr....wrong

unless you're looking for a good kicking?
:starwars:

#26 Thaibebop

Posted 23 October 2005 - 07:11 AM

Right, so why should he always be farang?

#27 Stocky

Posted 23 October 2005 - 08:13 AM

Because farang acquiesce.
:starwars:

#28 francois

Posted 23 October 2005 - 08:31 AM

View Postbritmaveric, on Oct 22 2005, 01:48 PM, said:

No I use Mandrakes approach - you thai. They get the message after a while and ask why you say "you thai". Why you say farang? Same Same. Anyways its a game to me, so turn the tables on them and have a bit of fun wth it instead of being annoyed.  :read:
:starwars: a bit off topic, but reminds me a funny story ...

some years back, arriving in Nepal, so many taxis, may be three times what being needed, and they were all showing their cards, "here sir, vely comfoltable" etc .. ;)
and I saw one guy taking all the cards one by one with all the taxi drivers a bit shocked, and then quietly mix them and then give them back and slowly walk away where one smart driver was still waiting  :bum:
"whel do you want to go sir?" with a typical nepali smile on his face :w00t:

they must have had good fun to find their card again  ;)

one of the best example to how to give back when annoyed  :D

francois

#29 mbk

Posted 23 October 2005 - 05:38 PM

The Indonesians have it down. Wherever I went in Indonesia I heard, "Hallo mister!"
'Mister', so simple, so old fashioned, so polite, even politically correct.  :starwars:

#30 Stocky

Posted 24 October 2005 - 05:05 AM

Maybe we should adopt the word and call out "Yo farang" to fellow whities!
:starwars:


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