A brief news-wire story that ran in many American papers in late 1940 claimed that due to an error in an English-Greek language book, the people of Cyprus thought that 'Goodbye' was the word used to say 'Hello' in English. Which must have caused some confusion to English-speaking tourists on the island.
Here's the story as it appeared in the Milwaukee Journal - Dec 17, 1940
Since no source was offered for this claim, and I can't find any other documentation of such a mixup, I have a hard time believing it was true. Surely any English teacher would have known enough to catch such an error, and wouldn't have taught it to students simply because it was in a textbook.
This must have been an early variant of the "mixed-up phrase book" urban legend, in which a foreign-language phrase book offers outrageously incorrect translations.
Monty Python has a well-known skit based on this idea.
And back in 2003
, a story circulated online claiming that a prankster had inserted incorrect translations into a Japanese-English phrase book, causing numerous Japanese tourists in America, in their attempts to find a restroom, to approach strangers and say, "May I caress your buttocks."
The bogus Japanese-English phrase book story actually originated as a satirical piece in the Weekly World News
. But this info wasn't included in the versions of the story that circulated online.