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I can't seem to get a good grasp of it. I found a few example sentences and read on weblio that it means: to think (something) is improper; to question; to have a problem with.
From the sentences I read, most of them were translated as "I doubt that..." or "I'm not sure about that".

There is this line that I found in a manga, with 2 boys having a banter:
A says: 死ね。
B replies: すぐ死ねって言うのどうかと思う~☆ (yes his line has those symbols, which I can only think that he has a playful tone and is mocking A)

"I doubt that I will drop dead right away"/ " Die quickly? I'm not so sure about that" Do these translations make sense?

3

どう can, colloquially, be used to express one's opinion of a thing being "questionable", or "dubious", without outwardly nor directly criticizing it either. It takes this meaning when used more "affirmatively" in the sentence, a bit like interrogative words may take a critical meaning when put in rethorical questions in a language like English.

In other words, akin to how What do you say ? asks a genuine interrogation while What do you think you're saying ? indirectly states a reproach, どういうことですか? ("What's this") most likely asks what something is while どういうことなんだよ! can express critical bewilderment ("What the **** is this !?").

Similarly, people will often utter どうかな to (inwardly) express doubt (疑問【ぎもん】) about the validity / reasonability / etc of something. どうかと思う expresses the same doubt on the validity / ethics / etc of the subject.
The expression "not sure what to think about ----" (with, usually, a rather doubtful and/or critical tone) I think conveys the idea pretty well.

So in your example, すぐ死ねって言うこと is what's being questioned by the speaker. You could replace the sentence for example by すぐ死ねって言うのどうなんだよ and it'd become a harsh (yet indirect) reproach of "instantly saying 'die'".
すぐ死ねって言うのどうかと思う or even more explicitly すぐ死ねって言うのどうかと個人的に思う / すぐ死ねって言うのどうかと個人的に思うけど / etc instead conveys the speaker's mixed feelings about "instantly saying 'die'" in a much more indirect thus soft and gentle way.
"Let me let you know I have rather mixed feeling about", basically.

Eventually the use ~☆ hints that he|she is making his|her criticism as lightweight and indecisive as possible. I'd wager he|she doesn't mind it much eventually, is just lightheartedly bantering, or is quite afraid of and cautious not to ire the person who said "死ね。" for example.

I'm not sure what to think about instantly saying 'die' ;)

What's up with that immediately saying 'die' :/

for example would sound like legitimate translations to me, especially tone-wise.


You can find in the 大辞泉 "having doubts, not being sure" and "finding it odd, distancing oneself with" as 2 separate definitions for どうか. Interestingly, you find a mix of these two (the amount of which is left to context interpretation) in typical uses of どうがと思う. I personally think the root feeling is basically the same though, and as such didn't distinguish them in my above explanation.

  • 2
    「(~~の/~~って)どうかよ!」とは言わないですね。。 – Chocolate Aug 22 at 3:01
  • @desseim Thank you once more, your explanations were very helpful! – Alice B. Rabbit Aug 23 at 1:24
  • @AliceB.Rabbit I'm glad the point came across. I found my explanation quite tedious though and modified it a tiny bit. Hopefully it's a bit more accurate and helpful now. Cheers. – desseim Aug 23 at 4:30
  • @Chocolate どうかよって表現はどうかと思いますね、、、取り敢えずきっかけにそこら辺の文章を書き直して少しだけ簡潔化してみました。ありがとうございます。 – desseim Aug 23 at 4:49
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「どうかと思う」 is a roundabout and indirect way of expressing one's somewhat negative opinion or impression of an action, situation, tendency, etc.

It is indirect for using the word 「どうか」 ("how is it") instead of directly saying "I don't like it.", "I think it's bad.", etc.

A more direct version of 「どうかと思う」 would be 「あまり感心{かんしん}しない」 ("I am not so impressed.") and that would be one way to translate 「どうかと思う」.

Other possible translations would include:

"I kinda wonder about ~~."

"I don't think it's so good."

"I find it less than ideal."

Whatever fits the best in the target language is the best translation. One will not arrive at it just by staring at the phrase 「どうかと思う」 as it is not a direct expression.

Finally,

A says: 死ね。

B replies: すぐ死ねって言うどうかと思う~☆

"I doubt that I will drop dead right away"/ " Die quickly? I'm not so sure about that" Do these translations make sense?

For a translation, that is O.K. because translation is an art, but if you really want to understand B's line, it is said about the fact that A said what he said facilely. The 「の」 in 「言うの」 is a nominalizer.

The 「どうかと思う」 is said about A's way of speaking, which uses a serious phrase like 「死ね」 too easily. It is not said about whether B will actually die soon.

  • It's hard to convey how each word of the idiom make up its global meaning through translation, but building on your suggestions I personally find that I find <subject> questionable / dubious does quite a good job at it by keeping a close similarity in the literal translation of both the whole expression and each of its components (find ~= 思う ; questionable / dubious ~= どうか). Of course it's a poor translation, but may help get the feeling of it. – desseim Aug 21 at 23:54
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    @lélecteur thank you for the in-depth explanation! I can understand better now. I had no idea that it could be close to あまり感心しない.<br> – Alice B. Rabbit Aug 22 at 0:20
  • @desseim thank you for the input as well. It's the first time seeing this structure and I wasn't sure how to translate it. I found some synonyms but it was still a bit hard to convey. – Alice B. Rabbit Aug 22 at 0:23
  • @AliceB.Rabbit I wanted to add a few more ways to decompose its components and look at it so I eventually put them in a separate answer. Doesn't mean there's anything wrong with this answer, it is absolutely correct, but it may help you get a bit more of the feeling behind this idiom. I find it surprisingly hard to find a literal equivalent in English that would be both accurate and self-explanatory. – desseim Aug 22 at 1:40

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