21 June 2009
The Origins of Cewek...
I almost became a linguist once. I even started taking courses in it as part of my first undergraduate degree. But, then life took a slightly different course and my university studies followed suit.
Cewek is a colloquial term for a woman. It is mostly used with younger women and girls. It is most prevalent in the Betawi culture / language. The Betawi people are mix of most of Indonesia's many ethnic cultures that migrated to Jakarta and made Jakarta their home. Over the centuries there are definite Chinese, Arab, and even Dutch bloodlines in the Betawi.
However, it is the Hokkien dialect that seems most likely to be responsible for the word cewek. In the Hokkien dialect there exists the word ciwe, which is the word for the female genitals, and it is suspected that over time this came to be the basis of the word cewek. (There is probably a post to be made here about the inherent racist nature of the word bule and how it has evolved over time...nah)
If this is linguistically correct I wonder how many women are comfortable being called female genitals, such as in the phrase, "Hey cewek!"