Soramimi (‘mishearing’; [feigned] ‘deafness’) and Soramimi kashi (‘misheard lyrics’) are Japanese terms 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 (mishearing a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning).

And example of Soramimi kashi is the Moldovan band O-Zone’s song ‘Dragostea din tei’ (named from the words in the opening of the song), 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: ‘Bei sa, beishu ka, nomanoma-yei!’ (‘Rice, is it, rice wine, drink it drink it yeah!’)

In Germany, the act of finding misheard lyrics in songs is known as ‘Agathe Bauer.’ This came about because the lyrics to ‘I Got The Power’ by Snap! can be heard as ‘Agathe Bauer,’ a German woman’s name. In Dutch, the act of finding misheard lyrics in songs is sometimes referred to as ‘Mama Appelsap’ (literally ‘momma applejuice’). This is due to the item ‘Mama Appelsap’ on the National Radio station 3FM, invented by DJ Timur Perlin. The name refers to the song ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” by Michael Jackson, because the lyrics ‘Mama-se mama-sa ma-ma-coo-sa’ (in imitation of ‘Soul Makossa’ by Manu Dibango) can be heard by Dutch speakers as ‘Mama say mama sa mama appelsap.’

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