In America, if one is a visible minority, even if one is born/raised in America the following conversation might happen:

A: Where are you from?

B: New York

A: No, where are you from from?

In this situation, "from from" is supposed to indicate they want to know what your ethnic origin is/where you and/or your parents originally immigrated from. For some more context, you can see the first twenty seconds of this video or this article.

I was wondering how one might replicate that conversation with that nuance in Japanese (replacing New York with Tokyo and assuming that B is a visible minority in Japan), but I'm struggling with the last line.

A. 出身はどちらですか?

B. 東京です

A: 本当の出身を聞きたいのです!

Any ideas? Creative suggestions that don't exactly translate the dialogue, but capture the awkwardness of the situation for person B are very welcome. Or maybe this concept is just too difficult to explain simply?

EDIT: My purpose in asking this question isn't to actually ask someone this question. It's to try to, via a translated dialogue, explain this situation to someone in Japanese. And hopefully without having to go on a long winded explanation of American culture.

  • 5
    Why would you assume that what person B is answering is not really where they are from? Even if my parents immigrated from somewhere, if I never lived there, then I'm not from there.
    – istrasci
    Dec 21, 2018 at 16:27
  • 3
    I don't think the OP is wondering how to ask someone this rude question but how to recreate the dialogue in Japanese, perhaps to explain the issue to a Japanese speaker.
    – mamster
    Dec 21, 2018 at 16:41
  • @istrasci I agree with you entirely. I edited my question to be clearer in my intent.
    – Ringil
    Dec 21, 2018 at 17:20
  • The context in the English statement is, as you may be aware, ambiguous. Asking "where someone is from" is ambiguous in that, it's not obvious whether the listener is being asked for their place of birth, their ethnic origin / ancestry, or where their grew up. It's helpful IMO to encode this nuance in the translation, that, the speaker isn't interested in where the listener grew up, but in the listener's ancestry. A more creative translation might be to ask for nationality, when the speaker actually wanted ethnic origin. May 6, 2023 at 22:13

1 Answer 1


I think in this context, if Person A replies with いや、そうじゃなくて・・・ it would give the sense that the question is asking for a further origin explanation. For example:

A. 出身はどちらですか?

B. 東京です

A: いや、そうじゃなくて・・・

B: あぁ、分かった。 外国人みたいだからね。

  • 2
    +1, but 「みたいから」 is surely ungrammatical.
    – user4032
    Dec 21, 2018 at 22:22
  • Is this example a natural sounding dialogue to native Japanese speakers? The switch from formal to informal seems odd to me, but I'm not a native speaker, so, I can't say for certain. May 6, 2023 at 22:15

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