In this posting I will briefly explore the origin of these terms, because I get the impression that some people feel deeply offended when any one of these terms pop up in a posting. Ironically, these same people lack the ability to express themselves in a courteous civilized manner while debating the issue. I’ll rather not repeat the vulgar language they use, or the names they call me.
The word “Barbarian” originates in the ancient Greek civilization, meaning "anyone who is not Greek". The word is onomatopoeic, in other words, the term is derived from one or more words that imitate or suggest the source of the sound they are describing. Common occurrences in English include animal noises, such as "oink-oink" or "meow-meow". Bar-bar(ians) --- similar to blah-blah, thus represents the impression of random hubbub produced by hearing a spoken language that one cannot understand. See Wikipedia for a full explanation.
It is in this context that the Holy Scriptures of the Greek new testament uses the term, first in the book of Acts – 28:2, which describes an incident when the Apostle Paul and his crew was shipwrecked on the Island of Meli’ta (modern day Malta). “And the barbarous people (meaning non-Greek, or people speaking in an unknown tongue) showed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.” Secondly, in Romans 1:14 where Paul states, “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians (non-Greeks); both to the wise, and to the unwise.”
The term is also historically used to describe the Vikings and Goths; it is a common label for the "Normans" during their invasion of England and for the Goths during the Gothic revolt that put an end to the (Western) Roman Empire in 470 A.D. and began the so-called Dark Ages.
The term has no racial connotation whatsoever in the scriptures, but yet newer translations of the Bible have changed the term “Barbarous” to “Natives” and some versions even use the term “Islanders”.
In South Africa, where we are slowly degenerating back into the ‘Dark Ages’, I’ve often heard Black police officers using this term publicly on National Television when referring to the actions of criminals. Then there are several sport teams that also call themselves ‘Barbarians’, but apparently this has nothing to do with the atrocious behaviour of some of their team members.
It is not clear whether the Portuguese name cafrinha was derived from English "Kaffir" after the English took over Sri Lanka, or came directly from the Arabic kafir in the 16th century, when the Portuguese were buying slaves from the Arab traders. During the 1500s, the Portuguese did indeed call the peoples of Southern Africa "Cafres" - "cafrinha" is a diminutive of "Cafre".
Most sources state that the original meaning of the word is 'heathen', 'unbeliever' or 'infidel', from the Arabic 'kafir'. It is still being used today by Muslims when referring to non-Muslims.
Portuguese explorers used the term generally to describe tribes they encountered in southern Africa, probably having misunderstood its etymology from Muslim traders along the coast. European colonists subsequently continued its use.
The above info was sourced from Wikipedia at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaffir_(racial_term) and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lanka_Kaffir_people.
The Wikipedia article concerning the Sri Lankan Kaffirs is quite interesting.
Readers may also find the contents of the website: www.sacred-texts.com informative. The direct link to their page discussing Kaffir (Xhosa) Folk-Lore, dated from 1886 is here.