Chen as Taboo in Qing dynasty’s Navy


“It is said that navies in the Qing dynasty in China don’t recruit personnel whose names include Chen. The entire Qing dynasty’s navy doesn’t have a single person whose name includes Chen.”


FG is a USC student and a good friend of mine who is currently studying in a transfer program in Ireland. He learned about this tabooistic vocabulary when he was eating fish with a friend. Free is very into history. He is always the one with the most jokes and strange stories on any occasion. And he is always eager to share them with his friends.


The very popular Chinese name Chen(陈) is a homophone for the Chinese character Chen (沉), which means sink in Chinese. Qing (清) dynasty is very superstitious. Homophones can actually decide the faith of people. The beginning of all these tradition is the “literary prison,” or 文字狱, in Qing Dynasty. The dynasty before Qing Dynasty is called Ming(明) Dynasty. And because Qing Dynasty overthrew the Ming dynasty, many people at the time thought Ming was the legitimate dynasty and Qing is the rebels. Of course, Qing emperor thinks it’s the other way around. It had become so sensitive that the emperor of Qing had killed thousands of people who had published content that creates a positive connotation of the word Ming(明). This signifies how superstitious Chinese people were at the time of the Qing Dynasty. There are many more examples like Chen in the navy. One is that when a fisherman in China eats fish, and they want to turn the fish to the other side, they can’t say fan (翻), which means turn the fish, but hua(滑), which means slide. Because fan also means capsize in Chinese