I was delighted when a friend sent me a link to a description of some Chinese ritual greetings today: Conversational protocols: a Cross Cultural Perspective.
Apparently something like ‘Are you busy?’ is a pretty common greeting in Chinese. Wow! That could cause a bit of confusion. I loved an example they give:
A. Lao Zhang, jin tian ni mang ma? ( Old Zhang, are you busy today?)
B. hen mang/ bu tai mang. (Very busy/Not very busy.)
In BrE and AmE ‘Are you busy?’ is often an indirect request for help and attention. So I’d have thought a more logical response would be something like:
B. Less of the ‘old’ – What do you want?