Translation:What do you think, is this boy reading?
Comas are very important in Russian. Here it separates two independent clauses, pretty much like in it does in English. "What do you think, does this boy read?" = "Does this boy read? What do you think?" - the answer is yes/no
If you were do drop the coma, It would indeed mean "How do you think the boy reads?" - the answer is "Backwards, 'cause his parents are playing a cruel joke on him."
Yes, this sentence has a different meaning than the one being translated here (asking what specifically he is reading, instead of whether or not he is reading or can read). I meant it works only in the sense that it's a grammatically coherent sentence, sorry for the confusion.
I translated it as "What do you think this boy is reading?" But its saying another translation is "What do you think, is this boy reading?". Those seem to be very different questions in English. "What do you think this boy is reading?" is asking "what" the boy is reading. While "What do you think, is this boy reading?" is asking whether or not the listener "thinks" the boy is reading.
The "correct" answer included a comma - "What do you think, this boy is reading?" Of course, in informal speech a question can often be phrased using the statement word order - "You drank the milk?" instead of "Did you drink the milk?". But I don't think that really applies after "what do you think", and accepting it probably leads to confusion, so I've removed it from the accepted answers.
I'm sure we'll now get reports telling us how stupid we are to not accept it :-)
There are several other exercises in this lesson with the same format/phrasing but they don't follow your logic about comma use. The result is that this is the only answer where I have to treat them as separate phrases (and even then, buy English translations could be considered correct in my opinion).
I gave your answer as well. According to pashasyr in his post above, the confusion only exists because we are ignoring the comma that is included in the example. The comma separates the two clauses. If we separate them in the English translation, we get the actually correct ....What do you think (comma) is this boy reading.
From the comments above from people who seem fluent in Russian, your alternative translation seems to be incorrect. According to those statements, it would be correct if the comma were missing. The comma supposedly divorces the initial "what" from "is this boy reading?"
Google translate gives the exact same Russian for both versions of the English, though. That leads me to conclude that the sentence in ambiguous.
If I were trying to be absolutely clear with the "correct" sentence, with my beginner's Russian, I'd ask two separate questions "Как вы думаете? Этот мальчик читает?"
For the other meaning, I'd omit the comma.
Both. The sound is not the best, but you get better at listening with practice.
One interesting thing I found in studying foreign languages is that the brain tends to fill in places you don't understand with familiar sounds, so that you expect to hear certain things, and it's only until your expectations begin to match what's being said that things become more clear. So, part of the process is building a mental database of Russian sounds, becoming familiar with verb forms, etc., so that you can literally fill in the blanks even when the audio fails for lack of quality or because it's too fast or because sounds are elided in normal conversational speech.
The first time I heard the word девочка, I could swear the person was saying "Gher-itch-kah", but once I practice say "Dyeh-vatch-kah"(sort of), I was able to hear it clearly, and the "gher" sound went away, replaced by "dyeh". I find that remarkable and strange, to say the least. Human perception is a lot more fluid than people think. (I'm a retired attorney. I have an extremely low opinion of eye-witness identification.)
You mean думаешь? The subject is in the plural, вы is "y'all" (plural), so the ending has to be the one for the second person plural as well, which is -те. It is also used for the second person singular in more polite speech. If it's ты, then it would indeed be думаешь.
See my first question above and the answer of pashasyr. He explained that the sentence does not mean "What (do you think) does the boy read?" but "What do you think? What does the boy read?" - and in this case, Russian prefers not to ask what you think, but how you think, in which way you think. That's how I interpret it now.
P.S.: Yes, I think что should be acceptable.
To me, "Как вы думаете...?" literally translates to "How do you think...?". I have a number of friends, for whom English is a second language, who ask the question in just this way. I understand that they are asking what my thoughts are on the subject, not whether I use my brain (or some other organ) to think. I translated the second half of the question literally to "this boy reads?". So, the whole sentence could have been a question of whether I approve of his reading CHOICES, or whether I believe he reads at all. I translated it as "does this boy read?", which is equivalent to Duo's translation, to me. I assume that asking about his reading choices would be more complex, yes?