I came across this sentence which confused me:


I didn't understand how 言う describes a word like 苗字 better. Now I started to think backwards about it.

So if one was to start with a sentence that had と言う苗字, と言う名前, と言う意味 a「quote」would precede the phrase. If と gets replaced with どう, there obviously can't be a quote preceding it. However the sentence could have been 「山田」と言う苗字を付けようかと思った時,... → When they were thinking about taking the name yamada. And now it is → When they were thinking which name to take. The thing that got me is, that that means the 言う "belongs" more to the どう than the 苗字.

Is it ok to think about it like that?

  • 2
    Umm......what? 🤔
    – istrasci
    Jul 15, 2020 at 21:29
  • 4
    you're overthinking this. どう言う just means "what kind of".
    – A.Ellett
    Jul 16, 2020 at 0:22

1 Answer 1


No, どういう is not a form of 「quote」と言う, as it has been said by A.Ellett in a comment. どういう is usually written in hiragana and has a meaning of its own as a single word. It means the same as 「どんな」:



When I thought of what kind of surname to give, ...

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