Barang (Khmer word)

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For the Filipino term, see Barang (Philippine mythology).

Barang (Khmer: បារាំង) is a Khmer word meaning French. It is often mispronounced as ba-réng. The correct pronunciation is bâ-râng, but pâ-râng is also acceptable. It is thought to be corruption of the word France but this may be a misconception.[verification needed] The term is related to the Thai term farang which has a similar meaning. In Malay, barang means "thing".

Khmer is the official language of Cambodia which was once a French protectorate called Cambodge in French. The French had many influences on the Khmer language, such as the pronunciation of Mercedes. Many technical terms used today in Khmer are of French origin.

In the Khmer language, the term barang has also become a non-pejorative word for a foreigner, particularly one of European ancestry, but some Khmer speakers might use it in a bad context. The term is becoming more popular now among travelers. It is even used by some expatriates living in Cambodia themselves.


The origin of this word is debatable as there are several possibilities. One is that it came from Arabic (faranj) via Malay traders. Another is that it came straight from French. Since Khmer phonology does not have the unvoiced fricative F, it is pronounced with the voiced plosive B. In many of Khmer's loanwords, an N often changes to an NG, as in the word Aleurmâng (អាឡឺម៉ង់, "German") which comes from the French word Allemand.

Barang is also used as a suffix in some Khmer words such as môn barang (មាន់បារាំង, "French chicken") which refers to a turkey as well as kh'teum barang (ខ្ទឹមបារាំង, "French allium") which refers to an onion.

"Barangsaes" (បារាំងសែស) is another Khmer term that shows its relation with the word Français, but it is rarely used.