Words of the Week: Death by Nightmare

Words of the Week: Death by Nightmare

The  comes from the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around censorship and political correctness.

做噩梦(死)(zuò èmèng (sǐ)): death by nightmare

"He died suddenly of a nightmare." (Artist: Zhuhuiqing)

“He died suddenly of a nightmare.” (Artist: Zhuhuiqing)

Suspicious cause of inmate Li Wenyan’s death claimed by prison officials.

On March 27, 2009, a 50-year-old man named Li Wenyan died in the Jiujiang City Detention Center in Jiangxi. Officials claimed that a nightmare had caused his sudden death. Li had cried out in the middle of a bad dream, but died hours later in a hospital bed. The family noticed large bruises on Li’s forehead.

Li was one of several inmates who died under suspicious circumstances in early 2009. A young farmer named Li Qiaoming (no relation) died in February of that year after an alleged game of hide-and-seek. While these cases spurred a national outcry and policy reforms, a May 2015 Human Rights Watch report reveals the continued torture of inmates.

Example of “death by nightmare”:

@Benlee_MM: What’s Up With “Naturally”?: Recently, a criminal surnamed Wang in the Nehe Prison in Heilongjiang had relations with the wife of a certain Officer Li. And the surveillance video was “naturally” lost? In ’09 a young man from Yunnan, Li Qiaoming, died from “hide-and-seek” in detention, and the camera was “naturally” broken; in the same year Li Wenyan from Wuhan died from a nightmare while in detention, and the surveillance hard disk was “naturally” broken. Government credibility has been eroded by responisble leaders failing to see this footage and not recognizing the mistake. Do you believe it? I do! (January 25, 2015)


See also death by hide-and-seek, death by drinking boiled water, and hang oneself.

5122889485918219594Want to learn more subversive netizen slang? Check out Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang. Available for $2.99 in the Kindle, Google Play, and iTunes stores. All proceeds from the sale of this eBook support China Digital Times.

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