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In the video game Ripening Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love, the protagonist Tingle meets a fortune teller who demonstrates her powers to him. She asks him, "You come from a far away town, right?" If Tingle answers, "No", she responds:

うそ おっしゃい ! おばさん わかってるの。 あなた まよっちゃったのよ ・・・

Now, from what I understand, うそおっしゃい means, "You're lying". However, since she continues with "I understand, you're lost...", it doesn't sound like she really disbelieves.

In this context, is うそおっしゃい to be taken literally, or is it a set phrase expressing astonishment like, "You must be kidding" ?

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A better translation would be "I know/can tell that you're lost" (which would mean he's not from around here). – Igor Skochinsky Aug 15 '14 at 16:25
up vote 19 down vote accepted

First, 「おっしゃい」 is the imperative form of the verb 「[仰]{おっしゃ}る」, which is the honorific form of 「[言]{い}う」.

「うそおっしゃい。」 means the exact opposite of what it means literally. Its literal meaning is "Tell a lie!", but that is clearly not something a person would say under normal circumstances, is it?.

Thus, 「うそおっしゃい。」 always means

"Don't lie (to me)!"

A more common form is:


which also literally means "Tell a lie!", actually means "Don't lie!" 100% of the time.

The nuance of these phrases is "Lie all you want; I can see through you!", "Lie if you want but it won't work!", etc. Thus, you are, in essence, saying "C'mon, don't lie to me!" These expressions are loosely called 「[反語表現]{はんごひょうげん}」.

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Idiomatically in the Japanese, don't うそおっしゃい and うそつけ parse out as nominals rather than imperatives? おっしゃい is also the 連用形 and nominal stem of おっしゃる, as つけ is the 連用形 and nominal stem of つける. So more literally, these phrases can be parsed as "lie telling" > "lying", and from there we can get the idiomatic English "you're lying" > implied "don't lie to me". – Eiríkr Útlendi Aug 15 '14 at 18:32
@EiríkrÚtlendi No, I think they're imperatives. By the way, there's some discussion here on pp.232-3 which might help you understand. – snailplane Aug 15 '14 at 18:44
@snailboat: Interesting. For those not clicking through, the similar baka ie and itte miro constructions given in the linked text's examples make the imperative clear. 非回答者: Reading around about this construction, this sounds very similar to English constructions such as, "just try it!" or "go ahead!", or Dirty Harry's famous "make my day!", which are imperatives with an implied threat, that idiomatically become negative imperatives. C.f. detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q139144513 for one such explanation. – Eiríkr Útlendi Aug 15 '14 at 22:28
I don't know for sure, but I suspect that 「うそおっしゃい!」 and 「うそつけ!」 are 連用形. Like when your wife rolls her eyes at you and says 「いつも適当にゆうて...」What do you think? – sazarando Aug 19 '14 at 7:55
"I suspect that 「うそおっしゃい!」 and 「うそつけ!」 are 連用形." >> 「おっしゃ 」は命令ですね…(「おっしゃれ」とは言いませんね…。)「食べなさい」「やめなさい」の「なさ 」とか、「いらっしゃ 」とかも命令ですし…。(「なされ」という形もありましたが。「いらっしゃれ」は言いませんね)「つけ」は「つく」の命令形ですね。連用形は「つき」(つい)になると思い‌​ます。 – chocolate Feb 1 at 13:38

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