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Soramimi (空耳?, "mishearing; (feigned) deafness", literally "air ear") or Soramimi kashi (空耳歌詞?, misheard lyrics);[notes 1] is a Japanese term for homophonic translation of song lyrics, that is, interpreting lyrics in one language as similar-sounding lyrics in another language. A bilingual soramimi word play contrasts with a monolingual mondegreen or homophonic transformation, and is usually caused by pareidolia. Soramimi transcription is also commonly used in animutations for comic effect.

An example would be the Moldovan band O-Zone's song "Dragostea din tei", known on the web as the Numa Numa song. The refrain of the original song (in Romanian) is:

Vrei să pleci dar nu mă, nu mă iei...
("You want to leave but you don't want, don't want to take me...")

A soramimi version, from the Japanese flash animation Maiyahi, translates these words as:[1][2][notes 2][3]

Bei sa, beishu ka, nomanoma-yei!
("Rice, is it, rice wine, drink it drink it yeah!")



Japanese comedian Tamori has had a long-running "Soramimi Hour" segment on his TV program Tamori Club, where he and his co-host watch mini-skits based on soramimi kashi submitted by the audience.


Mike Sutton, a mondegreen director on YouTube with the username "Buffalax", has uploaded several non-English music videos edited to include subtitles of the written English approximation of the video's original language's sound. "Benny Lava", Sutton's subtitling of the video for Prabhu Deva's song "Kalluri Vaanil" from the Tamil movie Pennin Manathai Thottu, received considerable praise.[4] Both the terms "Buffalaxed" and "Benny Lava" are now synonymous with mondegreens, "words or phrases misheard in ways that yield new meanings."[5][6]

Buffalax's account was closed in early 2011 for copyright violation complaints, and the videos (including those that were not copyright violations) were all deleted. However, his videos have been remade and cleaned up - often replacing the sound and/or video with better copies - and re-uploaded by other users.[citation needed]

The Dutch song "Opblaaskrokodil" by Ome Henk has been turned into an animutation called "The French Erotic Film", where the word "Opblaaskrokodil" becomes "Old blue Scot called Dil".[citation needed]


The Palestinian patriotic song "Blādi, blādi" ("Motherland, Motherland") was intentionally "misheard" into Russian (as blyadi, blyadi = "whores, whores") and uploaded to YouTube with Russian subtitles. The resulting video became an instant hit on Russian-language websites and blogs with more than 2 million views, and a number of phrases from the Russian version (especially "No money, long bumblebee") became instant catchphrases. Below is the example of the chorus:

Arabic (transliterated) Russian Russian (transliterated) Russian translated
Ya blādi jawwek hādi.
Mā 'ah'lāki ya blādi.
Tlalek mal'ab lennajmāte.
Fiki beytghanna 'l'hādi.
Blādi blādi ya blādi.
Blādi blādi blādi.
Где бляди живут бляди?
Две мохнатые бляди?
Денег мало длинный шмель,
Ты в кибитку не ходи
Бляди бляди е бляди,
Бляди бляди бляди
Gde blyadi zhivut blyadi,
Dve mohnatyye blyadi,
Deneg malo, dlinnyj shmel'
Ty v kibitku ne hodi
Blyadi blyadi e blyadi,
Blyadi blyadi blyadi
Where do they live, whores
Two furry whores
No money, long bumblebee
Don't you go into a kibitka
Whores, whores, o whores
Whores, whores, whores...

("blādi" in the original is dialect for standard Arabic bilādī بِلَادِي = "my country".)

In another instance, a Russian-language cover of Tic Tic Tac, a popular soca/disco hit by Carrapicho, phonetically rendered the first phrase of the chorus, Bate forte o tambor (Portuguese for "beat the drum hard"), as Мальчик хочет в Тамбов (Malchik Khochet v Tambov = "A boy wants to go to Tambov").

In the 1976 Boney M hit Daddy Cool, the chorus "What about it Daddy Cool?" was heard by many Russians as Varvara zharit kur (Варвара жарит кур) = "Barbara is frying chicken".

The song What Can I Do by Smokie from their 1976 Midnight Café album became an instant hit in the USSR because many Russians heard the song's title line as Vodku naidu (Водку найду) = "I shall find some vodka".

German ("Agathe Bauer")[edit]

In German popular culture, Mondegreens are often called 'Agathe Bauer Songs'. This comes from the Snap! song The Power, the refrain of which ("I've got the power") sounds like the German name Agathe Bauer. German radio station RTL 104.6 runs a segment where listeners call in with their own Agathe Bauer songs, which are played on-air.[7] Another German term for soramimi is Verhörer.

Dutch ("Mama Appelsap")[edit]

In Dutch, the act of finding misheard lyrics in songs is sometimes referred to as "Mama Appelsap" (literally "momma applejuice"). The name "Mama Appelsap" refers to the song "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" by Michael Jackson. The chant "Mama-se mama-sa ma-ma-coo-sa" (Jackson's imitation of Soul Makossa by Manu Dibango) can appear by Dutch speakers as if it sounds like "Mama say mama sa mama appelsap". The item became a running joke on national radio station 3FM, when DJ Timur Perlin hosted a program titled "Mama Appelsap", whereby listeners suggest various Dutch phrases and sentences purported to have been heard in songs.

Danish ("Undersættelse")[edit]

In Danish, where the word "translation" is oversættelse (literally "over-setting"), such a lyrical mistake is called an under-setting (undersættelse). Danish artist Benny Vigan Madsen has made a number of illustrated soramimi clips of national anthems, the most popular of which is the Red Army Choir's version of the USSR anthem, where the final line Nas k torzhestvu kommunizma vedyot ("It leads us to the triumph of Communism") becomes Pasta med sprut. Nå, kunne vi sparke en røv? ("Pasta with booze. So could we kick an ass?")

Hebrew ("Timlulim")[edit]

In Hebrew, the act of finding misheard lyrics in songs is known as "Timlul" (lit.: "Transcript"). Soramimi clips in Israel were almost exclusively the work of amateurs publishing their work on the internet, and were popular mainly during the mid-2000s, with the most transcribed musical group being Era. For instance, in one such transcript of the song Hymne, the opening line "In tu pate del cat" becomes Timtum Al Emet Ratz ("Stupidity for real runs"); "I manitores solitudi me" becomes Ima, Likro Le Soli-Dolittle? ("Mom, should I go call Soli-Dolittle?", with Soli ostensibly being a relative of Dr. Dolittle); and the repeated "Senzo" is misheard as Samsung, which led to the piece being dubbed The Samsung Cantata (הקנטטה של סמסונג). Another soramimi flash clip of an Era piece was based on Ameno, where "Dorime" became Dori Met (דורי מת, Dori is dead).

In addition to the Era videos, there were a few others that became well-known. These included a transcript of Dragostea Din Tei that interpreted the song's repeated "Maya"s as a reference to Maya Buskila (with accompanying visuals), and a transcript of Adiemus where "a-ya doo a-ye" became Hayagur Ra'ev ("The Yagur is Hungry"; "Yagur" is not actually a word, but phonetic and linguistic cues heavily suggest that it is supposed to be some kind of bird).

The popular 1978 Eurovision song of "A-Ba-Ni-Bi", with the first line of the chorus as "a-ba-ni-bi-o-bo-he-bev", has also been dubbed into English as "I want to be a Polar Bear" on YouTube.

Italian ("Canzoni travisate")[edit]

In Italy, the art of taking an Indian (or any other non-Italian) music video and giving it subtitles for what it sounds like in Italian, became popular between YouTube users. One of the songs that have been most successful is the soramimi version of Pariya by Shahram Shabpareh, called in Italy Esce ma non mi rosica ("She goes out, but it doesn't bother me"). The comedians Trio Medusa regularly perform radio sketches regarding "Canzoni Travisate" (misinterpreted songs) using mostly English-language songs. The Disco-Hit "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc. generated some urban legends regarding its lyrics: "Gotta make a move to a town that's right for me" misinterpreted in Italian as "Caro amico mio, culattone, aspettami" ("Dear friend of mine, homo, wait for me").

Swedish ("turkhit")[edit]

In Sweden this phenomenon is called "turkhit" (Turkish hit) because Turkish sometimes sounds a lot like Swedish. The first and maybe the most famous Swedish turkhit is called "Ansiktsburk" (meaning `face can`).

Other examples[edit]

A number of soramimi videos were made for Carmina Burana, juxtaposing the music with images appropriate to the misheard lyrics, for example showing four cans of tuna for "O Fortuna".[8]

In Mandarin Chinese, there is a joke based on Michael Jackson's "Beat It" which goes:

  • 哪一個偶像最喜歡說“筆勒”?
  • nǎyígè ǒuxiàng zuì xǐhuān shuō "bǐlēi"?
  • Which idol most likes to say "got a pen?" (literal)
  • Which Pop Star always asks for a pen? (translated)
  • Answer: Michael Jackson. "Beat it!" sounds like the Chinese for "got a pen?"

In Romania, the children's song "Pula Pula" ("Jump Jump"), by Brazilian gospel singer Aline Barros became a sensation, getting airplay on major radio stations and spawning several YouTube parody videos[9] with Romanian soramimi lyrics, as "pula" means "penis" in Romanian and it is heavily repeated in the chorus.

In Poland, "Decade of Therion", a 1999 song by death metal band Behemoth, became a popular Internet meme when given soramimi lyrics. The English phrase "We transgress the context of commonplaceness" has been interpreted in Polish as "Łyżwiarz wie, że kotek odkopał prezent" ('The ice-skater knows that the pussycat has dug up the present').

In Serbo-Croatian, the title of Queen's song "Another One Bites the Dust" is often deliberately misinterpreted as "a Radovan baca daske", meaning "and Radovan (a male name) is throwing the planks". Similarly, The Police song "Message in a Bottle" is interpreted as "mesečina, bato" ('moonlight, o brother').

In Brazil there are loads of soramimi involving Indian film music, mainly with Prabhu Deva acting, including Kalluri Vaanil from Benny Lava fame (known on Brazil as "Vai Rivaldo", referring the famous soccer player, captain of 2002 Brazil national football team on Japan and Korea). Also a very popular one is Tunak Tunak Tun, called in Brazil Tônico com Guaraná (Tonic with Soda)

The chorus of the Las Ketchup song "Aserejé" is an Andalusian Spanish phonetic rendering of the English-language song "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang.

In 80s Hungary, the chorus of the Opus song Live is Life (La ba dab dab dab life) was often misheard for "Levelet kaptam, Life" (literally meaning "I have received a letter, Life).

In France, a popular occurrence of misheard lyrics is found in the Metallica song "The Unforgiven". The original lyrics go : "New blood joins this earth // And quickly he's subdued" which is misheard in French as : "Nous battons des œufs // Et pouic! pouic! ils se tournent" (we whisk eggs, and kwik! kwik! they turn). Les Bidochons is a band that sings in French songs by English-language bands with similar-sounding lyrics. They started with songs from the Sex Pistols but also covered the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 空 means "empty" (as in "karate") when read "kara". But here, it is read "sora", and with this reading means "sky", "heaven", "air".
  2. ^ This particular soramimi video featured an animated version of the popular Shift JIS art cat Monā, and inspired Gary Brolsma, whose own video sparked the Numa Numa phenomenon.


  1. ^ Lucas, Dean. "Famous Pictures Magazine - Numa Numa". Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  2. ^ This video can be found at Its explanation:
  3. ^ "Gary Brolsma & The Numa Story". Gary Brolsma & New Numa!. Retrieved 2007-07-03. 
  4. ^ "My Loony Bun Is Fine, Benny Lava: The web's hottest clip", The Toronto Sun, April 28, 2008, p. 33.
  5. ^ Monty Phan (2007-11-06). "Buffalax Mines Twisted Translations for YouTube Yuks". Wired News. Archived from the original on April 28, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  6. ^ Spreekt Johan Cruijff Arabisch? on
  7. ^ "Agathe Bauer Songs: Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun | 104.6 RTL Comedy". Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  8. ^ "Wishydig". 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  9. ^ "Pula-pula-pula Romanian subtitles". YouTube. 2008-01-21. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 

External links[edit]