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好奇实验室 The Experiment Zone


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Episode 195: 租个女友回家过年 靠谱吗?


Hiring a girlfriend for Chinese New Year: acceptable?





I’m sure everybody has heard about this phenomenon, in which to avoid parental nagging or disappointment, young Chinese men – and, increasingly, women – hire or persuade someone to stand in as a supposed partner.


In this episode of The Experiment Zone, the programme investigates this phenomenon, and tries to find out who the women are who hire themselves out, why they agree to it, and what it actually entails.


First minute translation




Welcome to today’s edition of “The Experiment Zone”. I’m Shen Yang. Chinese New Year will soon be upon us, but for those of us without a partner, going home can be a cause for worry just as much as it is a reason to be cheerful.


像我,就想好好陪陪爸妈,尽情玩耍. 可是就算爸妈不提,串门的亲戚也会随口问一句:什么时候把女朋友带回家啊?

For people like me, who want to be with their parents, and spend an enjoyable time back home… even if our parents don’t bring up, we just know that some friend or neighbour will pop in and casually ask: “When are you bringing your girlfriend home?”



That’s when our parents’ face will turn grave, as if their precious child had committed some kind of heinous crime. So I often wonder: could I not just hire a girlfriend for the holiday period? And from all those online ads offering this service, might it even be possible to meet a beautiful girl with a great personality? Maybe it could be the beginning of a romantic voyage?



So, let today’s experiment begin!


Voiceover (no subtitles, so red means I’m not 100%)



Hiring a girlfriend for New Year is hardly a new story. But all the recent articles about it just say scam, scam, scam. Is the situation really that dire?



[not 100% sure about this part] … what kind of girl are you actually going to hire?


这些女孩儿真实的想法又是什么?他们能够接受怎么样的定制服务?有没有可能与你有深入的发展? 今天我们将完全真实的社交你打开这个令人惊喜的空间。

And what will their opinion be of this line of work? What ‘services’ will they actually agree to? Is there any possibility that it will all lead to some deeper connection? Today we will use a 100% genuine social network [advert] to open up this surprising phenomenon to our viewers.



Before you watch, predict the answers to these questions


1. How much do you think this service costs a day, if you go through an agency?

2. How many potential ‘fake girlfriends’ will reply to the advert in 24 hours?

3. What will the women’s attitude to this kind of practice be?




靠谱         acceptable

参半         in equal measures

串门         pop round, drop in (someone’s house)

挂不住      ashamed

亏心事      a terrible deed

骗局     a scam


诚意          sincere

帖子          a post, something posted online

应征          to reply to an ad, to apply

兼职          (here) moonlighting, to earn some extra cash on the side

成家          settle down, get married, have kids

底线          bottom line

好歹          in any case, at any rate

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Episode 153: 香车美女高速借钱更容易?


Is it easier for a pretty girl to borrow money from strangers?





This episode is all about borrowing money from strangers, and is divided into two parts. In the first, the team take their editor and dress her up in shabby clothes and see how she gets on asking other motorists to lend her some cash.


In the second part, they repeat the experiment with a glamorous younger girl, with an expensive car. Will other motorists trust her more? Will they be more generous? Watch and find out…


First minute translation




Everyone gets into some awkward situations sometimes. Recently a driver posted his story online, saying that on the approach to a motorway toll booth he realised he had left his wallet at home, and his phone was out of credit.



Other users replied saying that they too had been in similar predicaments. Especially if this occurs a long way from home, it can be truly embarrassing and distressing. The online comments suggested that, in this type of situation, having to ask strangers to borrow money, you would inevitably be taken for a scammer.


这是真的吗?今天我们的好奇实验室就来见证一下。 看一看,如果你遇到这样尴尬的情况,有没有人伸出援助之手呢?

Is this really the case? Today’s experiment will put it to the test. If you were in this kind of scrape, would anyone lend you a helping hand?


Voiceover  (no subtitles, so red means not sure)



This is the Editing Director of The Experiment Zone, Li Xue. Today she is in a spot of bother: she left her purse at home, and is running out of petrol! Pulling into the toll booth entrance, she has no choice but to put aside her embarrassment and ask strangers to lend her some cash.


李雪今天的打扮有点土气,而且她开了一辆??的小面包。拦车求助的对象,不分男女 她能成功吗?

Li Xue has been dressed in slightly shabby clothes, and the van that she is driving is also fairly done-in. She will have to flag down other male or female drivers – how will she get on?


Before you watch, predict the answers to these questions


1. How many people will stop for Li Xue in three hours?

2. How much money will people be willing to lend her?

3. How will a glamorous 美女 fare?

4. How will a man get on asking to borrow money?




收费站/收费口    toll booth

尴尬                   embarrassed, awkward

囧事                   awkward situation

把。。。当(成)骗子           take someone for a scammer

拦车                   to flag down a car

厚着脸皮            (lit.) thickening up your face – ignoring embarrassment. 脸皮薄 would be the opposite, meaning getting embarrassed or losing face at the drop of a hat.

土气                   coarse, unrefined, peasant-y

小面包(车)     a van


被无视             to be ignored

斜眼                to cut your eye at someone

                    to stare

大量                to weigh up carefully

难以置信         incredulous

现场                on the spot (i.e. the programme-makers gave the money back straight away)

支付宝             Alipay

郁闷                miserable

撒娇                acting helpless or miserable or scolding in a supposedly flirty way

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Episode 137: 崇洋媚外


Preferring Foreign Things





In this episode the team investigates the widely-held belief that preferring slogans written in ‘foreign’ is a phenomenon peculiar to China (anyone who has stopped by our wonderful tattoos sub-forum knows that this is not the case).


They conduct a series of experiments with various different items and participants from both 国内 and 国外, to see whether people really do prefer exotic languages to their own, and if so – why?


First minute translation



Any time a product has a foreign name and non-Chinese letters stamped on the packaging, we immediately think, wow, this must be quality stuff. This phenomenon is often referred to as崇洋媚外 (a chengyu meaning obsequious worship of foreigners).



But should that label so readily be applied? I actually don’t think so, until we find out whether or not Chinese people have a monopoly on this type of behaviour. Wouldn’t people from other countries think that Chinese labelling was beautiful? Today, we put this to the test…



“Golden Seed fertiliser – sow your crops with no regrets!” You would think that most Chinese people would rather die than wear a  T-Shirt emblazoned with this slogan in Chinese. But if we use Baidu Translate to render it into English, Spanish, and German, will the outcome be different?



The Experiment Zone team headed to a language training school, and invited the Chinese students to take part in an experiment. What they don’t know is that these four T-shirts all mean exactly the same thing [just in different languages]…




洋文             foreign script

高大上         a very new adjective, short for  高端,大气,上档次.   Meaning top-of-the-range. Since learning this word I have heard many people say it!

崇洋媚外     literally, worship foreign things and be obsequious to foreigners

文化奴才     cultural slavery

专利            patent (although I think here we would better translate the idea as ‘to have a monopoly on something’)

化肥            fertiliser



简洁            concise

                again, tacky/ shabby/ peasant-y/ crass

洋气            exotic

嫌疑            suspicious

直觉            intuition (I LOVE how the girl says this)

格局            layout

有意无意地     whether consciously or not



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Episode 175: 当上乞丐 月入过万真的不是梦?


Is it really possible for a beggar to earn a fortune?




A slightly weird episode this one, a little tasteless, but actually with a fairly positive message. The phenomenon that is being tested is the online rumour that beggars in China earn loads of money and live like kings.


Two of the crew take to the streets and see how much they can earn in an hour.


First minute translation (red means not sure)


欢迎收看今天的《好奇实验室》,我是沈洋。乞丐 月入过万的生活让很多人愤愤不平。最近值有媒体爆料,说一名职业乞丐上午乞讨,下午就跑到奢侈品店去买了一块名表,下班以后还大吃大喝,活得比谁都自在。

Welcome to today’s edition of The Experiment Zone, I’m Shen Yang. The supposed fact of beggars earning more than 10,000RMB a month has made a lot of people irate. According to a recent exposé, one beggar in particular spent the morning asking for money and then in the afternoon went to buy a luxury watch, and then in the evening gorged himself on fine dining, a life that almost anyone would envy.



Thinking about this leaves us hard-working suckers at the end of our tethers. So today myself and our cameraman Xiao Yong are going to become beggars, to experience it for ourselves, to suffer a little.


封下面子,挑战自己,成功离你不远。这句 而。。。俗呼你能逃在乞丐的??。羡慕从何而来,月入过万,买名表,两套房,年年出境游俗呼哇塞了成功的标签

“Ignore embarrassment, take a risk, and success is not far off.” This expression …     Wherever this envy comes from, huge income, designer watches, two-bedroom flats, and regular trips abroad would represent incredible success by anyone’s measure.



Today’s experiment may seem in poor taste, but it is a subject that people are certainly interested in. If you yourself became a beggar, could you really achieve this dream lifestyle?



Shen Yang and Xiao Yong are today’s guinea pigs. Their task is simple: convert themselves into beggars. Any method of asking for money is acceptable, they just need to see how much they can make.




How much do you think the following methods of begging will collect in an hour?


1) Asking politely at a train station

2) Accosting people in the street

3) Approaching people outside Alibaba’s head offices

4) Sitting/ lying/ kneeling on a bridge

5) Asking tourists at Hangzhou West Lake




乞丐                    A beggar (slightly formal; 要饭的 is used more in conversation in my experience)

月入过万             Simply means that every your 收入 is more (超过) than 一万块钱

愤愤不平             Indignant

爆料                    Expose (in the media)

大吃大喝             Eat and drink like a king


情何以堪             Indignant, Unable to bear

受虐匪            This is not really an expression (12 results on Baidu), but a play on words from  受益匪浅 which means to reap the benefits of something. The character is switched with the character . 受虐 means masochism or sexual mistreatment.

出格                    Beyond the pale


卖唱的                A busker

拭目以待            To wait and see

落魄                    Down on one’s luck

老乡                    From the same hometown

绕着我走             Walk around me, avoid me

被驱赶                To be driven away, made to leave


出乎意料             Better than expected

首富的公司         The company of the richest man, i.e. Jack Ma’s Alibaba

nani?                  Japanese – 什么?

大批                    A load of

梦想还是要有的,万一实现了呢              “You need to have a dream, just in case it comes true” – quote from Jack Ma


座右铭              Motto

凄凉                  Desolate


“I’ll give you some money now, but if you’re still here when I get back, I’ll take that cash right back.”

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No problem. I could envisage a dozen or so of these episodes developed into a nice little curriculum, much more interesting topics than the typical textbook.


Now that I've been flicking through the episodes a bit more (the first few were those specifically recommended by a teacher), I've noticed that lots of the 200 or so episodes are pretty rubbish - they don't follow the format of testing a belief or theory on the public, but rather just involve the crew testing a new product or something themselves.


So if people find other interesting editions, please recommend them in this thread - no pressure to post up vocab or anything like that, just that it would be good to sort the wheat from the chaff a little


In another thread I recommended this episode, where a group of foreigners are experimented on, to find out what is the most unpalatable food. I haven't written it up, for two reasons: lots of the dialogue is in English, and lots of the content is names of dishes. It's quite a fun watch though.

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Wow, this is pretty interesting! I like that the episodes are short and quick to watch too. I only watched the first two ones posted in this thread. Indeed, many of the titles seem to be not so interesting, so I'll see if anyone still posts anything here. I like the social experiment ones.

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