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I have been hearing 死ねばいいのに twice last week, including once in a context where a bit of formality was required.

What does it mean? Is it as violent as it sounds to me?

I am not looking for a word-by-word translation. I think it has to be taken as a whole expression, a kind of idiom.

EDIT: I just found this usage example on HATENA::KEYWORD:

あいつ「練習なんでドタキャンしたんだよ」って聞いたら、「彼女がデートしようって突然言うからさぁ」だって。ははは。まったくあいつらしいや。死ねばいいのに。

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Do you have any more context for this utterance? –  deceze Jun 1 '11 at 2:08
    
Can you clarify on the context which required the bit of formality? What was it? Who is it referring to? the speaker? a third person? –  hasenj Jun 1 '11 at 2:09
    
@hasen: Employee talking to the boss, jokingly. –  Nicolas Raoul Jun 1 '11 at 2:23
    
Variant: 死んだらいいよ –  Nicolas Raoul Jun 10 '11 at 2:36
    
heys i've never seen this grammar (i mean the variant) before.. what is it called (what are the conjugation rules)? –  Pacerier Jun 12 '11 at 16:07
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6 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Context:

Employee talking to the boss, jokingly.

As a joke, anything goes of course, but it does depend on many factors.

Boss: We received another request from our client: ...
Employee: またその話?死ねば良いのに。( -_-;;) Mata sono hanashi? Shineba ii no ni.
"Again? I wish they'd just go away/die! *groan*"

In this case I'd expect the two speakers to be on pretty good, colloquial terms with each other and have a mutual distaste for the client. If that wasn't the case, the employee should be reprimanded for insubordinate behavior (in any culture). It probably shows that he's really fed up with the client and probably doesn't mean it too seriously, but it's still not good taste.

Boss: Do you remember that guy? He's done it again! *lol*
Employee: あはは、死ねば良いのに!(笑) Ahaha, shineba ii no ni! *wara*
"Haha, he should simply die! *lol*"

If they were just bantering with each other I'd find it perfectly harmless, despite the fact that the employee would creep me out to some degree. It's not a nice thing to say in any language, but depending on the personality of the speaker it may be a simple joke or seriously worrying.

In any case, saying it to someone's face is never nice.

あいつ「練習なんでドタキャンしたんだよ」って聞いたら、「彼女がデートしようって突然言うからさぁ」だって。ははは。まったくあいつらしいや。死ねばいいのに。
"So I asked him why he canceled the practice in the last minute, and he said because his girlfriend suddenly asked him out on a date. Hahaha, those guys are just so... I wish they'd simply die."

Apparently this was used in a skit and was likely the punchline (as far as Japanese use punchlines). Here it's funny, exactly because it's rude and unexpected. If the phrase is used in this manner channeling a comedian, it's just good fun. The preceding まったくあいつらしいや and its delivery are quite important to set up this joke.

It's pretty much a case of 空気読めば分かる (depends on the context). ;-)

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This phrase is, as in HATENA::KEYWORD, an established idiom, which roughly means "I envy him/her so much that I can't help cursing him/her to death." Typically used for someone in love. Of course when used inappropriately, this sounds very insulting, so you should use this only when you're a really, really fluent Japanese speaker and when you're not in love with anyone. A more famous (and hopefully safer) net slang in this category is "リア充爆発しろ" (Real lovers must explode!) or simply "爆発しろ" (explode!) –  naruto Mar 28 at 13:33
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死ねばいいのに literally means “I wish (someone) die” as already stated in other answers, and it is a fairly strong phrase in this sense.

However, in many cases it is used as a joke where such a strong phrase is absurd. According to the webpage in Hatena Keyword you linked to, this joke was spread widely after used frequently by a comedy duo Downtown in TV shows.

Of course, whether this phrase is an acceptable joke or not depends on the context and people around you. Personally, I find it hard to understand that anyone uses this phrase when a bit of formality is required, but different people have different standards.

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To me, it sounds kind of like "Fuck that guy" or "Fuck those guys", as in, "I really don't give a shit." I tend to translate things with a lot of four-letter words though.

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If that were the case, an employee probably wouldn't have said it to their boss. –  Amanda S Jun 7 '11 at 22:01
    
I've used that kind of language (in English) with a boss before. It would have been about someone we both would have agreed was a fuck-up. –  Brendan Jun 7 '11 at 22:23
    
A lot more formality is enforced between bosses and subordinates in Japan, though. –  Amanda S Jun 7 '11 at 22:30
    
Yeah, sure. I did say that I tend to translate things with a lot of four-letter words. Maybe that makes it more dramatic in English than it sounds in Japanese. If you prefer, a more modest translation for 死ねばいいのに might be something like "I'd be okay with it if they just died." I like, "Fuck those guys" though, especially if 死ねばいいのに is said with a little emotion. –  Brendan Jun 7 '11 at 22:32
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死ねばいいのに is a pretty terrible thing to say to someone. It basically means, "I wish you were dead." To break it down:

  • 死ねば - If (you) were dead
  • いい - (it would be) good
  • のに - wistful suffix

Formality doesn't really matter here - it's terrible even if you try to say something like 死んで下さったら良いのに, just because of the meaning.

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Actually in this case I would say this is pretty contextual. In this example sentence you can't tell who this is referring to because pronouns are absent. Does it refer to yourself, to the person who robbed the bank, or the mosquito? –  Ken Li Jun 1 '11 at 1:54
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Certainly, the pronoun is implied and could be yourself or a third-party. But it's still a pretty terrible thing to say. –  bdonlan Jun 1 '11 at 1:56
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I am not looking for a word-by-word translation. I think it has to be taken as a whole expression, a kind of idiom. –  Nicolas Raoul Jun 1 '11 at 2:03
    
@nicolas, I gave an overall sort of meaning at the start; it's really not a particularly complex phrase, although it does seem to be somewhat common. If you have any specific questions I haven't answered, please feel free to ask, though :) –  bdonlan Jun 1 '11 at 2:06
    
@bdonlan thanks :-) I will try to remember the full sentence and context next time I hear this. I think it does not relate to the death of anyone. –  Nicolas Raoul Jun 1 '11 at 2:10
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That mean "~ better die", normally use to say by young guys, which they refer to third person not in the same place with them when talking.

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ばいいのに is used when you express regret that something isn't a certain way. "Man, it'd be great if you died/gosh, why aren't you dead?/I wish I were dead" (depending on the subject).

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Same as bdonlan: I am not looking for a word-by-word translation. I think it has to be taken as a whole expression, a kind of idiom. –  Nicolas Raoul Jun 1 '11 at 2:04
    
Well I think Nate's three examples explain the meaning of this phrase quite well (depending on the context it could be any of the three). What do you need further clarification on? –  rcjsuen Jun 1 '11 at 2:08
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