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Soramimi (空耳, "thought to have heard", or "pretending to have not heard"[1][2]) is a Japanese word that in the context of contemporary Japanese internet meme culture and its related slang is commonly used to refer to humorous homophonic reinterpretation, deliberately interpreting words as other similar-sounding words for comedy (similar to a mondegreen, but done deliberately).

The word is more commonly used for its original, literal meaning.

The slang usage is derived from the long-running "Soramimi Hour" segment on Japanese comedian Tamori's TV program Tamori Club. Tamori is one of the "big three" television comedians in Japan, and is very influential.[3] The segment, in which he and his co-host watch mini-skits based on submissions from fans, began in 1992.[4]

In modern Japanese internet culture, soramimi also includes videos with subtitles of humorously misinterpreted subtitles, or text transcripts that do the same. Unlike homophonic translation, soramimi can be contained within a single language. An example of "soramimi" humor confined to Japanese can be seen in the song Kaidoku Funō by the rock band Jinn, in which the lyrics "tōkankaku, hito no naka de" ("feeling of distance, amongst people"), which are considered hard to make out by Japanese listeners, are intentionally misinterpreted as "gōkan da, futon no naka de" ("it's rape, in a futon") for comedic reasons.[5][6]

Soramimi applies to dialogue as well as song lyrics. For example, in the 2004 film Downfall, when Adolf Hitler says "und betrogen worden", it is misrepresented as "oppai purun purun" ("titty boing boing").[7][8][9]

Soramimi humor was a staple in Japanese message board Flash animation culture from the late 90's to the mid-00s. It later became very popular on Niconico, a Japanese video-sharing website in which comments are overlaid directly onto the video, synced to specific playback times, allowing for soramimi subtitles to be easily added to any video.[10]

See also[edit]

  • Tamori
  • Tamori Club
  • Mondegreen – mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives it a different meaning
  • Homophonic translation – where a text in one language is translated into a near-homophonic text in another language, with no attempt to preserve the original meaning.


  1. ^ 実際にはない音や声が聞こえたように思う/聞いているのに聞こえないふりをする
  2. ^ "空耳とは".
  3. ^ "笑わせてナンボ お笑いビッグ3の特徴とは?". Asahi Shimbun. 1 January 2013.
  4. ^ "タモリ倶楽部|テレビ朝日".
  5. ^ "解読不能とは (カイドクフノウとは) [単語記事]". ニコニコ大百科.
  6. ^ "解読不能". ピクシブ百科事典.
  7. ^ "空耳一覧/ヒトラー ~最期の12日間~ - 総統閣下シリーズまとめwiki".
  8. ^ "総統閣下は本当は何を言っているのか : コメント御礼(767) - 社会保険労務士日記". 総統閣下は本当は何を言っているのか : コメント御礼(767) - 社会保険労務士日記.
  9. ^ "おっぱいぷるんぷるん". ピクシブ百科事典.
  10. ^ "ネットサブカルチャーの原点、Flash黄金期をニコニコ動画で振り返る". 4 March 2011.

External links[edit]