Ferndok, I agree with you in principle about language evolving, and yes with so many poorly educated (in the English language) publishing on the Internet to such a wide audience (most not particularly well versed in the English language) that evolution is happening ever faster. However, I have to go with JohnOfStony on this one because if we don't guide the evolution of language we run the risk of losing the ability to correctly interpret a cultural heritage to which perhaps your works will one day belong. Just look at the original meaning of the word terrific, it used to mean to instil terror. If a word like 'cool' is adapted to mean trendy etc. that's not so bad, but when we have 2 words that have distinct descriptive meanings (for language no less :-) ) and they get trashed to have any or all the same meaning you lose some of the richness you as a writer require for your craft. In any case, I think we have covered all of the possible angles on this issue now so I will stop monitoring this thread and let everyone get back to complementing Scott on his timeless and accurate portrayal of corporate life.
Common usage of acronym instead of abbreviation? True, but that doesn't make it correct. If a word already exists with a specific meaning and it gets used for a different meaning for which there is already a word, then we start the situation where the number of words in use gets smaller and we lose the beauty and versatility of the language. Ultimately it results in degradation to just grunts.
Another example of common usage which is wrong is breaking the speed limit. People are even damaging speed cameras because they haven't the self control to obey a law which is there for a reason. Imagine what driving would be like if we all decided to ignore the rules.
Yes language does evolve, just as children evolve, but if a child isn't given instruction as to what is right and wrong we have a problem. I'm just trying to improve awareness of the English language. I accept that incorrect usage is now endemic but just because criminal behaviour cannot be eliminated doesn't stop us from trying and spending a lot of money on the police.
Whatever, thanks for the comments folks!
etmax, if you're still following these comments, check http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acronym. According to that dictionary, the CORRECT meaning of acronym can refer BOTH to a word AND and to an abbrevation, the latter being also referred to as "initialism" (as dbowles uses it below). THEREFORE: Scott is not wrong, as WDNW can be referred to as either an acronym, an abbreviation, or an initialism. The argument has been refuted twice, now.
On a larger issue, I am a writer and I love the English language. And I recognize that all languages change and evolve with time. I suspect they probably evolve much faster now than they used to. It's not just that someone got it wrong and the error perpetuated. It's just how languages work. Those who set out on a mission to try to reduce the use of errors on the internet may just as well try to stop the natural evolution of language. You can try, I suppose, but aren't there better uses of one's time?