Tag Archives: tabooistic discourse

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

The Double Mitzvah

This tabooistic vocabulary comes from my sister, BZ, who converted to Judaism four years ago. 


“We call having sex on Saturday ‘the double mitzvah.’”


“This means you have fulfilled two commandments at once: be fruitful and multiply, and enjoy the Sabbath,” BZ said. She first heard this phrase while at dinner at Hillel. She says she and her friends use this phrase quite often because they think it’s a funny innuendo that only their community would pick up on.


When my sister shared this tabooistic phrase with me, I thought it was really funny. I’ve obviously heard different sayings that refer to sex like “hook up,” but I hadn’t heard anything tied to religion. The only religion I’m extremely familiar with is Christianity and I have definitely not heard many sex jokes from that realm. I think it’s great that the Jewish community is able to be casual and playful when it comes to referring to sex instead of making it a shameful thing.

Dead Dove: Do Not Eat

Content Warning: Discussion of potentially triggering topics including, but not limited to, sexual assault.

ZN describes an acronym convention within the fanfiction community. This convention warns readers that there is content that may be triggering or that could be deemed incredibly offensive that is being used for sexual intent within a work of written fan-fiction. These topics could include non-consensual sex, underage sexual conduct, and more.

ZN.) So there’s something called Dead Dove, Do Not Eat, or DDDNE which is a tag that people will put on AO3 (the Fanfiction website Archive of Our Own) fanfiction posts that means that there’s some triggering content or potentially triggering content. It’s usually sexual in nature, so it’s like non-consensual sex or like underage stuff or like bestiality or something like that. It’s written in a way that it’s meant to be pornographic and like you’re meant to be turned on by it, so it’s kind of a trigger warning. But, it’s different than a trigger warning because trigger warnings will usually be used like “We deal with this really heavy topic in a way that’s trying to be respectful but you may get triggered by it.” Dead dove do not eat is specifically for like sexual assault scenes that are written like pornography.

This is an acronym that a community decided to use colloquially to describe content that would be very taboo for most readers. It is a piece of folk speech used by those that frequent fanfiction websites and communities. It’s not dissimilar to acronyms used in other communities to refer to inappropriate content, but in contrast its more used as a tag than to replace the actual inappropriate content. It’s interesting that it’s both used to keep users that may dissent to reading this content away from the content but also to attract users that may enjoy this type of writing. While this type of writing existed before the internet, now it is very accessible to whoever is browsing, so it’s very important that the community has a way to distinguish what they are okay with reading before being exposed to potentially harmful content. 

Summer Camp Customs and Lore: The Announcements Song

Informant: “So I went to camp cedars every summer. The weekend after fathers day since the time I was about eleven until um… maybe about fifteen or so was the year I decided that I should be a camp counselor at camp cedars. Great time. I spent the whole summer out there, I was actually going to go to a camp-out one week, uh when the rest of my troop was, but I decided it would be more fun just working again for that week. It was a very enjoyable time. One of the… I guess, every day for every meal of the day, there would be a couple of announcements that um the staff would have to share with all of the campers, but they couldn’t say that. ‘Announcements’ was a bad word at camp cedars. It’s been a bad word as long as anyone has known. It’s such a bad word that the moment anyone says the word announcement no matter who it is or what context, they are immediately surrounded by all of the staff members in the area and this happened about once a week, sometimes more, um one time three days in a row the same guy uttered it while giving the announcements. So, uh when someone said announcements they were ridiculed for the next five minutes or so and um everyone else sang the announcements song. Which um I don’t remember all of the verses but it started something like:

(to the tune of the farmer in the dell)

Announcements, announcements, annoouuuncements!

A wonderful way to die, a wonderful way to die

A wonderful way to start the day, a wonderful way to die!

Announcements, announcements, annoouuncements!



We sold our cow

We sold our cow

We have no use

For your bull now.


(to the tune of the more we get together)

Have you ever seen a windbag, a windbag, a windbag?

Have you ever seen a windbag? well there’s one right now.

Blows this way and that way and this way and that way

Have you ever seen a windbag? well there’s one right now.


(To the tune of London bridge is falling down)

Words of wisdom, words of wisdom,

Here they come, here they come:

More words of wisdom, more words of wisdom:

Dumb dumb dumb, dumb dumb dumb


The informant, a Caucasian male, was born in Spokane, Washington and then moved to Omaha. He is currently a student at USC and studies computer science.

The informant learned the song when he was about eleven years old “the first time we went to camp cedars so the very first summer.”Camp Cedars is a Boy Scout summer camp. The informant attended the camp for about five or six years and was a counselor for one year. As a camper, he didn’t really worry about saying the taboo word because it was usually just the staff that ended up saying it when giving announcements. In addition, the informant “was never really giving announcements, so I never had to worry about saying the word.” Because announcements were a daily thing, they usually had to be referred to as A-words or some other euphemism.

The informant felt that the traditions were around to raise morale, keep the counselors from getting bored, and build a rapport between all of the members of the camp. The informant said that there were “many, many, many traditions” at this camp. Additionally, these traditions were just a fun thing.

He first learned the words of the song from watching the counselors perform the song; he especially recalls this song because he thought, “it was ridiculous and it happened all the time.” The informant said “I encountered it probably over a dozen times being a camper plus the summer when I worked there maybe another dozen or two times, so very repeated and it’s a lot of fun too – being the staffer and being the one who is singing the song, making fun of whoever happened to inadvertently say the word or intentionally… like I’m sure the guy who said it three times in a row was not entirely accidental”

In a way, this song and folk tradition appears to be a parody of tabooistic discourse because the camp tradition turned an ordinary word into something taboo, forcing camp members to find euphemisms for an otherwise innocuous word.