Lo Fan

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Apr 3 09:41:14 UTC 2005

It looks like 老番 are the correct characters (http://www.hanzismatter.com/2004/12/abusive-husband-pimps-me-out.html, http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/scripts/showchar.php?id=213&full=true)

lou5 (old) and faan1 (take turns; turn, a time; repeat; also evidently means foreigner) according to www.mandarintools.com.

I was always told it was a *pun* not a folk etymology. I found this online as lou5 (old) + faan6 (rice).

Benjamin Barrett
Baking the World a Better Place

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Douglas G. Wilson

>Just a note that neither the OED nor the AHD has the word "lo fan"
>person) listed. It is (or was) very common among Cantonese-Americans,
>even when speaking English.

I've seen "gwai lo" (with spelling variants) most often in this application myself, in Cantonese in books. I heard "fan gui" long ago in 'Mandarin'
IIRC, along with "yang gui zi" etc. These are along the "foreign devil" line.

"Lo fan" apparently has a folk etymology among the Canto-speakers:
sometimes it's claimed that the "fan" is the conventional "fan" = "rice"
referring to the prototypical lo-fan's white-rice-like skin color; I believe the "fan" must actually be another word meaning "barbarian"/"foreign" (as in 'Mandarin' "fan qie" = "foreign eggplant" or so = "tomato"), which is distinguishable from the "rice" word in standard Cantonese by tone (says the book). [Anybody knowledgeable, please fill me in if necessary.]

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