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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][user-generated source][6][user-generated source]

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][user-generated source]

Soramimi humor was a staple in Japanese message board Flash animation culture from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s. 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] One such example is the Moldovan band O-Zone's song "Dragostea Din Tei". 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:[11][12][a]

Bei sa! Beishu darou! nomanoma-iei!
("Rice, obviously! Rice wine, most likely! Drink drink yay!")

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.
  • "Caramelldansen", a Swedish-language song that became a meme on the Japanese-speaking internet in part due to listeners' frequent use of soramimi
  • Benny Lava, a soramimi of a song from the Tamil film Pennin Manathai Thottu


  1. ^ 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.[13]


  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. 14 August 2008.
  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.
  11. ^ Lucas, Dean. "Numa Numa". Famous Pictures Magazine. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
  12. ^ This video can be found at Its explanation:
  13. ^ "Gary Brolsma & The Numa Story". Gary Brolsma & New Numa!. Retrieved 2007-07-03.

External links[edit]