Who are the Ho's?

21 Apr 2018 // places

In a conference recently, I was lumped with a bunch of guys who all had the last name Ho (何). No relation, but we work in the same office. We got our photo taken:

That got me thinking. I used to think Ho was a common surname in Chinese, which was probably due to my dad, who likes to inflate the importance of anything associated with himself. So I looked it up Wikipedia, only to find that Ho ranks a middling 17 in the Chinese list of common surnames. The mighty Wang (王), meaning King, rules at number 1.

So I decided to google up the putative origin of Ho. Ho is a variation of the last name Han (韓) from the Han Kingdom. Sadly, the Hang Kingdom was wiped out by the Qin Kingdom during the Warring States period of Ancient China (475BC - 221BC). Supposedly, a refugee by the name of Han Han, who tried to flee the Han Kingdom by crossing a freezing river, was questioned by Qin soldiers, and asked for his name. Han pointed back at the freezing river, indicating that he was “Han”, as apparently “Han” rhymes with “Cold”. The Qin guard misunderstood him, and wrote down “River” (河), and Han (韓) became Ho (河), the river. Later, he modified the name to Ho (何) which swapped out the splashy river radical, with a manly radical.

Han-Ho's descendants must have done well.

Still, the character 何 that Ho ended up with has another meaning. It’s a pronoun for who or what or why. So who are the Ho’s?

I guess this means that we are the who.