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In Japanese internet slang, soramimi (空耳, "to thought to have heard something", or "pretending to have not heard something") is a humorous homophonic reinterpretation or mondegreen, that is, deliberately interpreting words as other similar-sounding words for comedy. The word is still used in its literal meaning.
The slang usage comes 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. The segment, in which he and his co-host watch mini-skits based on submissions from fans, began in 1992.
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.
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").
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.
- 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.
- 実際にはない音や声が聞こえたように思うこと/聞いているのに聞こえないふりをすること https://www.weblio.jp/content/%E7%A9%BA%E8%80%B3
- "笑わせてナンボ お笑いビッグ３の特徴とは？". Asahi Shimbun. 1 January 2013.