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Epic Punchlines – Lost in Translation: Swings

In Miscellaneous by Lena

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When translating Korean lyrics, punchlines lose their pun and all that is left is a plain, meaningless line. Yet, you still want to understand the joke and laugh along? This article will introduce and explain to you one of Korean hiphop’s most epic punchlines, so let’s get punny!

The punchline in question is by no other than the self-proclaimed punchline king Swings.
Below, you will first find the punchline along with its romanization and some song info, followed by an easy explanation as well as a more detailed one that goes even further than just explaining the pun and is addressed to everyone learning Korean.

Attention, Vietnamese fans!
This post is available in Vietnamese as well, thanks to the Korean Hip hop Vietnamese fanpage on Facebook. Enjoy this article in your own language here.


난 화난 백인처럼 조지고 부시네
Rom.: nan hwanan baegincheoreom jojigo busine
Swings – 달리자 (Feat. Basick, Verbal Jint, Planet Black)Album: #1 Mixtape Vol. 1

The video starts at 0:56 with the punchline.

Translation & Explanation

The point of this punchline is its double entendre. One translation would be:
Like an angry white man, I beat people up and break things
The other would be:
Like an angry white man, I am George Bush
The pun here is that the Korean words for ‘to beat up’ and ‘to break’ sound like saying ‘George Bush’ in Korean. The former US president’s name is written 조지 부시 (joji busi) and the two verbs are 조지(고) 부시(네) = joji(go) busi(ne).

Detailed Explanation

Let’s first break down the sentence word by word:

  • 난 (nan) = the condensed version of the pronoun ‘나’ (na, I) + the subject particle ‘는’ (neun)
  • 화난 (hwanan) = adjective meaning ‘angry’, derived from the verb ‘화나다’ (hwanada, to get angry)
  • 백인 (baegin) = noun meaning ‘white man’ formed with the syllables ‘백’ (baek, 白, white) and ‘인’ (in, 人, person)
  • 처럼 (cheoreom) = particle meaning ‘like/as’
  • 조지고 (jojigo) = form of the verb ‘조지다’ (jojida, beat sb. up) with the particle ‘고’ (go) which means ‘and’
  • 부시네 (busine) = form of the verb ‘부수다’ (busuda, to break sth.) with the particle ‘네’ (ne) which is used for declarative statements

Secondly, here are a few notes on the above translations of the punchline:

  • To be exact, the translation should be “Like a white man, I am George and Bush” since there is the ‘고’ (go, and) in between ‘조지’ (joji) and ‘부시 ‘ (busi). For the sake of the pun though we simply ignore it.
  • You might be wondering where the verb ‘to be’ (“I am George Bush”) is in the Korean sentence. It is actually “hidden” to serve the pun: ‘부시네’ (busine) can be interpreted as a condensed version of ‘부시이네’ (busiine) where the syllable ‘이’ (i) is the missing form of ‘to be’ (이다, ida).
  • Translating the two verbs ‘조지다’ (jojida) and ‘부수다’ (busuda) we need objects in English since we cannot just say “I beat up and break.” Therefore, the translation reads “I beat people up and break things” although the Korean text does not include any objects (they would destroy the pun).

This concludes everything about this epic punchline.
Let us know how you liked this article, if the explanation was understandable, and of course if you have any questions!

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