Observations on the changing language of accounting



Evans L (2010) Observations on the changing language of accounting. Accounting History, 15 (4), pp. 439-462.

The meaning of words can change over time. In addition, new words may enter a language, sometimes replacing other words. This article extends prior literature on language change in accounting by drawing to a larger extent on theories from linguistics, and by placing greater emphasis on mechanisms of and motivations for change. Particular emphasis is placed on the need to verbalize new concepts, and sociocultural change. The latter is illustrated with examples from the development of accounting as an occupational interest group, and the adoption of Anglo-American accounting terminology and culture. The article concludes that language change in accounting, including transmission between languages and cultures, can inform accounting historians about the transfer of technical developments, as well as about socio-economic, political or ideological processes, power relationships, and the importance of terminology in jurisdictional disputes.

Accounting; Culture; History; Jurisdiction; Language change; Profession; Terminology

Accounting History: Volume 15, Issue 4

Publication date30/11/2010
PublisherSAGE Publications for the Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand

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Professor Lisa Evans

Professor Lisa Evans

Professor of Accounting, Accounting & Finance