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I was reading an article about how the humour in the Yakuza games gets translated into English, and in the original Japanese a pun is made.

ふとんがふとんだ

The article says it is a play on words. But I cannot find any explanation online but I do see a reference to it. I can understand "a table is a table" but this isn't really a pun, it would be equivalent to "calling a spade a spade" in English.

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A pun is a play on words exploiting homophones or similar-sounding words.

The pun in [布団]{ふとん}が[吹っ飛んだ]{ふっとんだ} The futon was blown off is that it sounds almost like 布団が布団だ A futon is a futon, the latter being a complete tautology.

There are many such popular puns, including

  • 犬がいぬ
    A dog is a dog v The dog is gone
  • イルカはいるか
    A dolphin is a dolphin v Is there a dolphin?
  • イクラは幾ら
    Salmon roe is salmon roe v How much is the salmon roe?
  • コンドルは[喜んどる]{よろこんどる}
  • ラクダは楽だ
  • etc. ad nauseam
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    The same kind of puns occur in English, too, e.g. "The book about the dragon tended to drag on". – ConMan Feb 13 '18 at 22:45
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    @l'électeur I didn't copy your translation, even if I ended up with the same translation. Given that the sentence consists of two words, a subject and a predicate, there is not much room for alternative translations, although I did consider "blown away" and "blanket"... – Earthliŋ Feb 14 '18 at 13:49
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The actual pun is:

「ふとんがふとんだ」 with a small っ.

and not:

「ふとんがふとんだ」 = "A futon is a futon."

which is what you wrote.

The verb prefix 「ふっ」 is explained here:

What does the word 「ぶったてる」mean?

To use kanji, the phrase is:

「布団{ふとん}がふっ飛{と}んだ。」 = "The futon was blown off."

Thus, it is a legit pun indeed. It is the kind that small kids like to say.

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    A clarification: the verb prefix ふっ here is the contracted combining form of ふき, which is the stem or continuative form of verb 吹【ふ】く "to blow": 吹【ふ】き飛【と】ぶ → 吹【ふ】っ飛【と】ぶ "to be blown into the air". This is not the same as the ぶっ in ぶったてる, where the ぶっ is the contracted combining form of ぶち, the stem or continuative form of verb 打【ぶ】つ "to strike, to hit": 打【ぶ】ち立【た】てる → 打【ぶ】っ立【た】てる "to build something in a rough or violent fashion" (more idiomatically, perhaps "to slap something together"). – Eiríkr Útlendi Feb 13 '18 at 21:21

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