Last week I had an appointment here in Beijing with my knee surgeon. This was my first appointment since 2 weeks after he did the surgery. Since that time I have shed my crutches and worked hard with at PT to restore full range of motion in my knee. I was proud of my progress and eager to 'show off' for Dr. Kong.
During the visit he watched me walk, sit, stand up, checked my range of motion, and examined the scars. Like a kid waiting for approval from a parent, I waited for his assessment.
"Quite OK," he said.
Quite OK? That's all? I must admit that I was a bit disappointed, but then I realized that there was a bit of a cultural communications clash going on. Being an American I am used to excessive encouragement, and that's all I had heard from the PT in the States. But excessive encouragement and praise is not a normal part of discourse in Chinese (or British English, which is noteworthy since my surgeon was educated in the UK).
In the Chinese language there are a number of positive phrases that are common, but which just sound funny in English.
hai keyi = this is 'quite ok.' It means good.
bu cuo = not bad, but is stronger in it's positive connotation in Chinese than it is in English
hen buocuo = very not bad.
Anyway, it was clear that I had gotten the 'hai keyi," which I am taking to mean 'good.'
And I'm quite OK with that.