Now who said that Chinese reality TV shows aren’t real?
It actually starts off a little boring.
But then applicant Liu Lili mentions her foreign educational background and her love of Shakespeare. And she accidentally speaks some English. Finally, when she refers to China as 中国 instead of 祖国 (zǔ guó – “the motherland” or “the fatherland”), all hell breaks loose.
The host loses his cool, becomes incensed, and attacks Liu Lili in a very personal, un-Apprentice like way.
Much to my utter amazement, the panel of judges sides with the host, and they proceed to dissect whether Liu’s faults are because of her time abroad or because she’s just a messed up person.
The Chinese phrase I’d use to describe the TV show host is 沉不住气 (chén bú zhù qì).
沉不住气 (chén bú zhù qì) is very close in meaning to “lose your cool.” 沉不住气 (chén bú zhù qì) is probably slightly broader because it doesn’t have to mean someone who becomes upset. It can also refer to someone who acts too rashly or hastily (see examples 2B and 2C).
Perhaps a breakdown of the parts of 沉不住气 (chén bú zhù qì) would be helpful:
沉 (chén): can mean “to sink,” but here it means to restrain or keep your feelings in check
不住 (bú zhù): this is a part of the Verb + 不住 (bú zhù) pattern, which can mean many things depending on the verb. Here, together with 沉, it means to be “unable to tightly” keep in check.
气 (qì): temper or mood (eg. 脾气 – pí qi – temper)
Here are some examples of 沉不住气 (chén bú zhù qì) in the wild:
Usage 1) As a Verb
Example 1 A)
“fùqīn yǒuxiē chénbúzhùqì le,tā biǎoshì yào qīnzì chūmǎ dùjué zhè yī bù wénmíng xíngwéi”
“Dad lost his cool a bit, and said he wanted to go out himself and stop this uncivilized behavior”
Example 1 B)
“yǎnjiàn shànghǎi díshìní lèyuán kāigōng,shànghǎi huānlègǔ yǒuxiē chénbúzhùqì le”
“Seeing Shanghai’s Disneyland beginning construction, Shanghai’s Happy Valley lost their cool a bit”
Example 1 C)
“jīngyíngzhě tóunǎo yídìng yào lěngjìng,qièbùkě yíshí búshùn,shēngyì bùhǎo jiù chénbúzhùqì ….“
“A manager needs to be calm, and can’t lose they’re cool just because business is rough or things don’t go smoothly”
Example 1 D)
“měiguó què chénbúzhùqì le,gàitènà zài G7 mǎsài huìyì shàng fābiāo”
“The US lost their cool. Geithner went postal at the G7 Marseilles meeting.”
Usage 2) 沉不住气 + 的 + Noun
Example 2 A)
“chénbúzhùqì de rén shì hěnnán dēngdǐng de “
“People who can’t keep their cool will have trouble climbing to the top”
Example 2 B)
“yǒuxiē chénbúzhùqì de fángdōng 。。。zhǔdòng jiānɡ jiàgé fàngdī “
“Some landlords who can’t keep their cool… are actively reducing their prices”
Example 2 C)
“shízài chénbúzhùqì le de yáng xiānshēng kāichē chūmén qù zhǎo háizi”
“Mr. Yang who really couldn’t keep his cool went out and drove his car to find the kid”
What’s your favorite awkward moment of Chinese TV?
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