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Epic Punchlines #3: Zico

In Miscellaneous by Lena

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The third part of our exclusive series is here with the mission to show you that idol rappers can write some Epic Punchlines as well. And who better to prove this than Zico?!
Find his punchlines and the explanation below. As usual, if you’re learning Korean you’ll also want to read the last part that helps you make sense of the grammar behind the lines. Enjoy!

Punchlines

내 위치는 릴웨인처럼 위지
너는 Nicki Minaj처럼 결국 내 밥이여
nae wichineun lilweincheoreom wiji
neoneun Nicki Minajcheoreom gyeolguk nae babiyeo
Zico – Alexander (알렉산더)ZICO on the Block (Mixtape)

The video starts at 00:26 with the punchlines.

Translation & Explanation

It was difficult to choose one punchline out of the many brilliant lines Zico has written so far, the winner were finally these two lines which are a great demonstration of the Korean language’s versatility. They translate to:

My position is above you like Lil Wayne
Like Nicki Minaj, in the end you’re my punching bag

This would be the lines’ plain translation (‘punching bag’ is a metaphor for someone who is a pushover). As usual, the punchlines make use of phrases with ambiguous meanings. The original lyrics even come with the explanation (omitted above); it seems like Zico wanted to make sure that everyone would understand:

내 위치는 릴웨인처럼 위지(Weezy)
너는 Nicki Minaj처럼 결국 내 밥이(Barbie)여

Got it already? Not yet? Let’s explain this: For the first line, the ambiguous phrase is ‘위지’ (wiji) and can be read as ‘above’ or as ‘Weezy’, which is Lil Wayne’s nickname. In the second line, the phrase is ‘밥이’ (babi) and can be understood as ‘punching bag’ or as ‘Barbie’, Nicki Minaj’s alter ego for which a Barbie doll was actually made. Knowing this, you could also read the two lines as:

My position is Weezy like Lil Wayne
Like Nicki Minaj, in the end you’re my Barbie

This of course does not make as much sense as the first translation but hopefully helped you understand the puns!?
Now, if you’re someone who pays attention to detail you might want to read on to properly understand the grammar behind these punchlines.

Grammar

To be exact, ‘위지’ (wiji) not only means ‘above’ but it is the word ‘위’ (wi, above) + ‘-지’ (ji), a particle for stating something obvious or natural; its more formal version is ‘-지요’ (jiyo) or, shortened, ‘-죠’ (jyo). The same goes for ‘밥이’ (babi); it actually is the word ‘밥’ (bap, punching bag) + the object particle ‘-이’ (i).
As for the translation, ‘밥’ (bap) is used as a metaphor for someone who is a pushover and gets used by others. The literal translation is ‘food’.
Also, although pronounced the same, ‘Barbie‘ is actually written as ‘바비’ (babi) in Korean. See the note on the romanization below for details.
This said, let’s break down these punchlines!

1st Line

내 위치는 릴웨인처럼 위지

  • possessive pronoun ‘내’ (nae, my) which is short for ‘나의’ (na-eui) = personal pronoun ‘나’ (na, I) + possessive particle ‘-의’ (eui)
  • noun ‘위치’ (wichi, position) + subject particle ‘-는 ‘ (neun) for nouns which end on a vowel
  • name ‘릴웨인’ (lilwein, Lil Wayne) + particle ‘-처럼’ (cheoreom, like/as)
  • preposition ‘위’ (wi, above/top) + particle ‘-지’ (ji) for stating the obvious
2nd Line

너는 Nicki Minaj처럼 결국 내 밥이여

  • personal pronoun ‘너’ (neo, you) + subject particle ‘-는’ (neun) for nouns that end in a vowel
  • name ‘Nicki Minaj’ + particle ‘-처럼’ (cheoreom, like/as)
  • adverb ‘결국’ (gyeolguk, finally/eventually/in the end)
  • possessive pronoun ‘내’ (nae, my) which is short for ‘나의’ (na-eui) = personal pronoun ‘나’ (na, I) + possessive particle ‘-의’ (eui)
  • noun ‘밥’ (bap, punching bag) + particle ‘-이여’ (iyeo) which is Gyeongsang dialect for ‘-이야’ (iya), a particle used to strengthen one’s statement (like an exclamation mark)

Note on the romanization:
‘밥’ is romanized as ‘bap’ (pronounced a bit like ‘pahb’) but when the particle ‘-이’ (i) is added, it is romanized as ‘babi’ (pronounced something like ‘pahbee’) as the ‘ㅂ’ (b) in the final position is transferred to the beginning of the next syllable which starts with a vowel, resulting in: 바비 (The exact way how ‘Barbie’ is written in Korean, see above.)


You had fun and learned something from Zico? Let us know!

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