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How do you express in Japanese that something is generally claimed to have a certain property without positioning yourself to clearly as to the veracity of the claim?

For example, how would you express the following sentence in Japanese:

Reliquaries are the supposed bones of saints.

  • ....と思われる or ...と推測{すいそく}される...etc? – Kentaro Tomono Jun 22 '16 at 14:01
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    I like "〜という説があります". Also ...らしい – Locksleyu Jun 22 '16 at 15:43
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    Also, maybe not applicable to your example, but perhaps relevant to your question, そう has a possible connotation similar to "supposedly" (reporting hearsay). – WeirdlyCheezy Jun 22 '16 at 16:38
  • と噂される・という噂もある・という言い伝えもある are other more distant possibilities. And to clarify what @WeirdlyCheezy said, ~だそうだ – Brandon Jun 22 '16 at 17:34
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    Also ...とされる for "allegedly" which may fit better in certain cases (detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q141925824) – Locksleyu Jun 22 '16 at 21:07
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I think all the comments provide good examples. In my experience though, the most commonly used in this situation is also the simplest one: 言われている (or 思われている as well, like in the first comment that I initially somehow missed).

Checking on weblio for example, you can find the following example:

He's supposedly 85 years old: 彼は 85 歳だといわれている.

Now, obviously this is just one example since as many people commented there are other ways to express that. However, as I said in my experience this is very commonly used. After all, if you think about it, "it is supposed that" and "it is being said that" bear a similar, if not the same, meaning.

In this fashion your sentence could be translated as:

聖遺物{せいいぶつ}は聖者{せいじゃ}の骨{ほね}だと言われている。

EDIT: I changed the word 舎利 I originally used for reliquaries with 聖遺物 as suggested by @Brandon in a comment. I agree that this is a more appropriate choice in this context..supposedly. :)

  • 舎利 is strongly connected to Buddhism, no? And saints are (often) Abrahamic so it seems an odd, if interesting, fit. Who's to say though without any more context. – Brandon Jun 23 '16 at 3:59
  • Yeah I had exactly the same feeling. However, I was not able to find any more appropriate word. – Tommy Jun 23 '16 at 4:00
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    If we're going with an Abrahamic context, 聖遺物? – Brandon Jun 23 '16 at 4:14
  • Seems exactly correct. There is even a wiki page: ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%81%96%E9%81%BA%E7%89%A9 that seems to confirm that this is what we are talking about. – Tommy Jun 23 '16 at 4:20
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“Supposedly” can be translated in various ways depending on the context, for example:

多分, 恐らく, 想像するに, and 推測するところ.

Oxford Advanced English Learners Dictionary defines "reliquary" as:

a container in which a relic of a holy person is kept.

Kenkyusha's Readers Plus English Japanese Dictionary defines "Reliquary" as 聖骨箱.

If we follow both of the above definitions, the given line would be translated as:

聖骨箱は聖人(ら)の遺骨を納めていると思われる。

舎利 means bones, but it's specifically applied to the bones of Buddha and Buddhist saints' bones.

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The word [supposedly] is often used in an ironic (slightly sarcastic) manner.

Both of Wiktionary's sample sentences contain this idea.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/supposedly

  • People from other planets have supposedly visited Earth in flying saucers.

  • According to your testimony, you were supposedly at home watching TV when the murder occurred.

Synonyms == allegedly, purportedly

2 of 11 sample sentences in Alc contain this idea.

http://eow.alc.co.jp/search?q=supposedly

  • supposedly egalitarian society === 建前{たてまえ}としての平等{びょうどう}主義{しゅぎ}の社会

  • cheat someone by charging $__ for supposedly free visits === 《イ》サイトの閲覧{えつらん}を無料{むりょう}だとして(人)をだまして_ドルを課金{かきん}する

The latter half of Alc's definitions contain this (ironic) idea: [ 建前{たてまえ}上は[としては]、一応{いちおう}は、一般{いっぱん}に信じられているところでは、~といわれている ]

Another way to express this idea is [... とされている ] or [ ...ということになっている ]

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