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I struggle with expressing my desire for an explanation how a particular physical thing works?

E.g. How does this clock work? How does a refrigerator function?

Best thing I can come up with is 「動き方」

2 Answers 2

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How about using the verb 「動く」 or the noun 「仕組み」...

How does this clock work?
「この時計はどうやって動いているんですか。」

How does a refrigerator function?
「冷蔵庫って、どういう仕組みになっているんですか。」

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I'd user either...
このXはどのように作動しますか?
or...
このXはどのように機能しますか?

They're more or less interchangeable AFAIK; but I suppose the former is slightly more associated with mechanics/machinery involving moving parts; whereas the latter is perhaps a little more broad in scope, and can be applied to software algorithms and such cases too.

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