I'm reading a certain set of kindergarten/lower primary maths textbooks that is written by North American authors for a European company.

Whenever students are asked to identify the number of rectangles in a given picture, the answer booklet gives the number of oblongs instead of the number of rectangles.

While the topic may be too advanced for kindergarten students, the maths textbooks indeed explicitly say at the bottom of the first page of a textbook at the very first level to tell students that squares are special types of rectangles, where levels 1-4 are for kindergarten students.

Additionally, the accompany guide for teachers devotes a whole page of discussion as to how to teach that squares are special types of rectangles. There's even a paragraph about teaching to kindergarten students. The authors/some of the co-authors of the teacher guides are also authors/co-authors of the textbooks. They have also said that if students are taught that squares are not rectangles, then they will have misconceptions later.

Perhaps, the ones who wrote the answer booklets were not fluent in English while the ones who wrote the textbooks were.

For example

[picture with 4 circles, 2 triangles, 3 square rectangles, 2 oblong rectangles for a total of 5 rectangles]

Circle ___

Triangle ___

Square ___

Rectangle ___

The answer key would give only the numbers:





So, the last line is wrong since it should be 5.

Could this happen in Russian? Or a Russian dialect? I mean, is there something specific about the translations of any of the following words 'rectangle, square, oblong, quadrilateral, quadrangle, parallelogram, trapezoid/trapezium, rhombus' that would cause such confusion? I guess the translator/s thought that when English speakers say 'rectangle', it means 'oblong in their language/dialect, but I don't see that as specifically a problem for this particular language.

By the way, are squares considered rectangles in Russia? Apparently, these things can vary by state, curricula, culture, time, etc. Please provide a document from the education department of your government or something.

P.S. I'm a monolinguist.


Are kindergartners supposed to be steered from squares being rectangles?

In what curricula are “rectangles” defined so as to exclude squares?

Why do we have circles for ellipses, squares for rectangles but nothing for triangles?

What are/should kids (be) taught about the colour of the sun?

  • 3
    How does this question is related to Russian language? Are authors Russians? Math is the same in all languages. Mistakes exist in textbooks in all languages.
    – Dmitriy
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 7:34
  • @Dmitry Thanks! Could be. I don't want to say the actual language out of fear of identification. But if we suppose the company for example is Russian, is there some aspect of the Russian language that would make it plausible that the mistake/s would be due to a translation error rather than a geometric misconception?
    – BCLC
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 8:04
  • 1
    As I told you, math is the same in all languages. I am interested in modern physics and math, I read popular science literature, but I never heard anything like this. Sometimes errors could appear due to false friends, but I can't imagine corresponding Russian "false friend of square".
    – Dmitriy
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 8:18
  • 5
    Most probably, the author of the answers was not very good at geometry. Technically, a square is a rectangle, but people are so used to the fact that square has its own name, they could easily count them separately. It has nothing to do with language. Also if you draw a square with one corner at the bottom, most people will tell that it is a diamond (ромб) and count it separately.
    – AlexVB
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 15:15
  • 1
    @AlexVB but in Russian unlike in English there's one word for both a class of shapes прямоугольник (rectangle), аnd a type of shape within this class прямогугольник (oblong [rectangle]), which could well be the source of difference in outlooks between speakers of the two languages and of difficulty in translation as well Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


I believe i would answer exactly as the answer key shows, which in your opinion is incorrect.

I guess the translator/s thought that when English speakers say 'rectangle', it means 'oblong in their language/dialect

I do envision such a possibility.

In Russian square is квадрат while rectangle is прямоугольник (named oblong rectangle in your description).

Both rectangle and oblong rectangle are just прямоугольник and the latter is usually only understood as oblong, to the exclusion of a square.

Although technically square is an isolated case of a rectangle, conceptually in Russian speaking milieu they're usually treated as different shapes. This is what i remember from my school years and it's been a while since then.

  • Баян Купи-ка, thanks. May you please clarify your penultimate paragraph? It looks like a dependent clause/fragment/forgot term.
    – BCLC
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 8:56
  • Also, it's not supposed to be a riddle. What do you mean? It's a standard exercise in the text. There are others like it.
    – BCLC
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 8:56
  • if children aren't taught that square is a type of a rectangle they will have to figure that out Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 8:57
  • Also technically square (квадрат) is a kind of rectangle (прямоугольник) we never use rectangle to unite rectangular shapes. In this case we will say rectangular shapes (прямоугольные фигуры)
    – XperiAndri
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 13:39
  • 3
    @Andrii, we do. In the geometry class at least.
    – AlexVB
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 15:19

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