Cultural, generational language differences lead to confusion

Some time ago I had asked my father for some family details as I had been messing around on ancestry.com. A few weeks ago he sent me an email which read:

Yesterday I posted a Flag to you and the details I had managed to find regarding my Grand Father and G.G.F. I got these details rather a long time ago, but could get no further.

I immediately went to Facebook to check on his post but there was nothing there. I went to ancestry.com to see what information he had flagged. Still nothing. I checked emails, messenger and even Skype. Nothing anywhere. I sent him an email reading:

What’s a flag? I haven’t got anything from you.

This was his reply:

Andrew: A flag is a piece of material which is normally found on a stick or a pole called a flagpole. Post is something you do with a letter at the post office after you put a stamp on it and send it off to someone like you. Love Dad.

I literally laughed out loud when I read it. I had forgotten that I had asked him to find an English flag for my soccer-watching experiences. I had also forgotten, after 30-plus years in America, that the English “post” things not “mail” them,

But, more importantly, it really said more about shifts in language.

Who, nowadays, does not immediately think of Facebook, Instagram or some other social media when one “posts” something? And I often “flag” a post or email when I want to remember where it is.

I constantly talk to my students about being concise, being aware of possible misinterpretation of words. I could not make up such a perfect example.

So thanks for the flag and the info, Dad. I hope you read this blog post. No stamps required.

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