Friday, August 15, 2008

Etymology of "Ferenghi"

The first time I remember hearing this word was in the movie "Junoon", a movie based on Ruskin Bond's novel, "A Flight of Pigeons". In a scene where anxious relatives rush out to meet the warriors returning from Delhi during the 1857 revolt, a wounded, haggard Sarfaraz Khan cries out in despair, "Feranghi jeet gaye! Hum Dilli haar gaye!" (The English have won! We've lost Delhi!).

In Asia, why were the English or Europeans in general, called Ferenghi's?

Last year I came across this word again in Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red. The story revolves around the Ottoman Sultan's attempt to create a book of miniature paintings that would stun the 'Venetian infidels' or Franks into accepting that Ottoman art was much superior to their own. While reading about 'Frankish' master's and 'Frankish' kings, it had sounded so much like Ferenghi...

In Kerala, cashew nuts which was brought in by the Portuguese is called Parangi Andi or 'Foreign Kernels'.

The word for a 'foreigner' in modern Thai is farang, which according to one version, is an abbreviated form of farangset, meaning 'French'.

So is there is common link between Franks, France, Farang and Ferenghi?
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