Sometimes I come across an English phrase that looks a bit odd, and I wonder if it's based on some Japanese phrase unbeknownst to me. Assuming that such a question would make sense, how can I ask an average Japanese-speaker, as opposed to a linguist, about this?

For example, if I came across "a carp laid on a chopping block", or "steel and rice coalition", and there was some reason I suspected it was based on Japanese, how would I ask them about it in Japanese?

  • I think it's better to write the question itself in English, if possible, some context where you encountered those phrases.
    – Rathony
    Sep 28, 2016 at 14:10
  • ことわざ的な?感じですかとか?
    – ishikun
    Sep 28, 2016 at 17:06

2 Answers 2

  • 日本語由来の言葉ですか? ("Is the phrase Japanese-origin?")
  • 元は日本語ですか? ("Is the origin Japanese?")
  • 日本語のことわざですか? ("Is that a Japanese proverb?")
  • どこの国の言い方ですか? ("A way of saying of what country is it?")

You can also use 慣用句 (="idiomatic phrase"), but this may sound a bit too stiff in casual conversations.


Another alternative: "その表現、もともと日本語でした?”

  • What does this phrase literally mean?
    – Golden Cuy
    Sep 30, 2016 at 0:52
  • 1
    @AndrewGrimm 「その表現(は)」→ "That expression is", 「もともと」→ "originally", 「日本語でした(か)?」→ "Was it Japanese language?" ---> So it literally means: "Was that expression originally Japanese?"
    – chocolate
    Sep 30, 2016 at 16:23

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