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Imagine a situation when I'm standing with another person. The person hears something and responds back. In fact, I had not spoken anything. It is because of his faulty ears. So, what can I comment on his ears? I'm an Indian. In India, we say tere kaan baj rhe hain (Indian language), which literally means this in English: Your ears are striking/ringing. How do we say this in English when we want to say something about the ears of person which heard something which has not been spoken by anyone?

  • Just curious... Which Indian language is that saying from? And what is your translation? That would make your question more interesting, and help us to discern which nuance you need to replicate. – Brian Hitchcock Jul 4 '15 at 6:16
  • @BrianHitchcock It is Hindi (हिन्दी), the national language of India. – Gurpreet Jul 4 '15 at 6:18
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    Forgive me, I must have confused "official" with "national". Is this article incorrect? (second paragraph) en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_India – Brian Hitchcock Jul 4 '15 at 6:23
  • @BrianHitchcock That paragraph must be correct as it is saying that based on the constitution of India. I'm not much knowledgeable about whether Hindi is a national language or not. So, according to Wikipedia, Hindi is official language not national. Therefore, I was wrong when I said that Hindi was India's national language. Sorry! – Gurpreet Jul 4 '15 at 6:29
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    I was nitpicking. But I knew there are over 100 major languages in India, some even used in universities. But the article does say that only Hindi and English are official in the national government. Anyway, I was curious about the literal translation of that saying—could you please include it in your question? – Brian Hitchcock Jul 4 '15 at 7:02
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I think the general phrase in this situation would be:

Are you hearing things?" (AmE)

things is used as a general term, because you don't really know what the other person heard (unless they tell you).

But you have to be careful, because in some situations it could be considered critical or rude:

No that is not what I said. Are you hearing things?"

which implies someone acts like you said something other than what you said, for various reasons.

  • Wow! you're great, man! This is what I had been looking for. – Gurpreet Jul 4 '15 at 6:09
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Google Translate says that the Hindi phrase

  • tere kaan baj rhe hain translates to

  • your ears are ringing

However, in English we use "ears are ringing" to describe a certain sound in one 's ears, that does not come from outside, but is caused by some defect in hearing. (See tinnitus).This condition is likely to cause someone to NOT hear what you did say, rather than to "hear" something you did NOT say.

If they "heard" words not spoken, you could say they were - hearing voices

This is technically called an auditory hallucination.

Some schizophrenics report "hearing voices in their head". Some killers have even reported that the voice(s) in their head told them to kill.
So asking someone if they hear voices in their head suggests that you think they are mentally ill. Make sure they know you are kidding.

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