This is something that has been really worrying me lately. I don't know if it happens only here in Poland but I keep finding mistakes inside language coursebooks. Sometimes it's typos, and I think that's quite a scary thing because I won't always be able to recognize them, especially if it's a totally new language. But sometimes it's much worse: outdated vocabulary, incorrect grammar structures - the kind of mistakes that should never ever be found in a published coursebook! I've already seen several books for learning Russian that, despite pretty covers and supposedly well-known publishers, had errors that most native speakers could have easily corrected.
And this is really terrifying for me. Does this happen in other countries as well? Are there any international publishers that can be relied upon?
For now, I don't think I'll buy any learning materials published here.
One of the subjects I like most when discussing languages with friends is funny situations we've got ourselves into thanks to incorrect use of a foreign language (or not being able to speak a certain language).
I'm sure I've had a lot but I mostly remember these several occasions:
- When I was in France, I somehow forgot the word for "glass" and ordered "une glace, please" thinking I was ordering a glass of water. I was fairly surprised to get a portion of ice-cream
- When I was in the Netherlands, I bought some cheese that I wanted to give to my family as an eatable souvenir. There was no fridge in my hotel room, so I asked the receptionist and she put it inside the fridge somewhere on the outskirts of the hotel kitchen. When I was leaving next morning and wanted to retrieve my cheese, there was a different lady in the reception who did not speak English. She knew the word "cheese" I guess but not the word "fridge". And I managed to completely, totally forget the Dutch word for it. I tried to call my Dutch friend but, alas, the phone was switched off, probably because it was dreadfully early in the morning. I tried repeating "fridge, cheese, my cheese, fridge" several times but to no avail. I then tried to produce something with my hands which (I hoped) looked like a person putting food inside the fridge. The lady still stared at me with no comprehension. So much for my acting skills. Finally I resorted to drawing. I was not very good at drawing back then which just may be the reason why this also produced no results - just more puzzled looks from the receptionist. I was slowly giving up ever seeing my lovely cheese again when the owner of the hotel walked in, and the guy spoke English! What a relief! The cheese was safe and sound in my luggage again, so, a happy ending to that one
- I've also had some hilarious misunderstandings when I only arrived to Poland and was not fluent in Polish yet. Certain words which sound the same in Polish and in Russian have absolutely different meaning. One good example is that the Russian "to remember" has the Polish-sounding twin which means "to forget". A newly met acquaintance was a bit shocked when, after giving me her email, I said: "Thanks, I'll try to forget it" My Polish partner had a fair amount of laugh-out-loud occasions, when I said things like "I'll sit on the carpet" meaning "I'll sit on the sofa" or "I'll just add some plums to my coffee" meaning "I'll just add some cream".
Have you made any funny mistakes or experienced a problem not remembering a word you needed? Please share!