Oryx-and-Crake (oryx_and_crake) wrote in linguaphiles,
Oryx-and-Crake
oryx_and_crake
linguaphiles

A quite unusual (for me) usage of "quite"

Dear linguaphiles,
I am currently reading That's not English by Erin Moore, a book about differences between BrE and AmE. What she describes mostly makes sense, but one chapter surprised me:

In English English, quite means "rather" or "fairly", and is a subtle way of damning with fair praise. To an American, quite simply means very, and amps the adjective. No subtlety there.
...
An English author receives an editorial letter from her American editor who "quite" likes her new book. (Insult!)
An American student finds it impossible to get a job in the UK based on the glowing recommendation letters submitted by her professors, whose highest praise is "quite intelligent and hard-working". (Shock!)
An English houseguest confesses to being "quite hungry" and is served a steak of punishing size by an oblivious American friend. (Horror!) And so it goes.

My question is to the native speakers of British English here. Is this true? For some reason, I either never came across such usage in BrE (and I read a lot of British literature), or overlooked and completely misunderstood the sentences with "quite" all my life (which does not sound very probable to me, because if you completely misread a sentence it will sooner or later clash with the remaining text and then you'll notice).
If you think what the author says is true, have you ever had misunderstandings in communication with AmE speakers, similar to what is described above?
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