I've been working in Japan and I get "so-so" as an answer to just about anything.
How are you doing? So-so.
Do you like English? So-so.
Can I jab you in the eye with this pen? So-so.
I've been here 6 years now and my native ears have lost a little of their edge. I need some confirmation. This came up recently when I told a Japanese teacher, "In English we don't like things 'so-so.' We either like them or don't like them to some degree."
Do you like English?
Yes. / No. / A little. / Not really. / Some aspects. etc.
I told him I don't think it's technically wrong but it doesn't sound natural. I went on to explain that so-so is rarely used but might be used when talking about ability as well as other situations to mean somewhat.
Are you good at basketball? Ehh, so-so. Why do you ask?
Japanese language, as a part of culture, is very indefinite and they have very common termanology that is translated in dictionaries as "so-so." I can see where that is easier than all of the case by case answers.
Should I just let it go? Do we have bigger fish to fry? Am I off base here?