A grandmother in Arkansas says her adult children have great difficulty telling their children what to do. They turn instructions more accurately, what they think are instructions into questions and then wonder why their kids don't seem to appreciate their timidity.

Grandma's email made me think of a habit I have noticed among people a generation or more younger than myself. To wit, when they order food in a restaurant, they ask if they are allowed to have whatever they want. For example, when ordering a hamburger, instead of saying, "I'll have a hamburger" or "I'd like a hamburger, please," they ask, "Can I have a hamburger?"

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