Accounting is popularly referredto as the language of business because accountants use financial information asa communication tool to aid in management decisions (Johnson, 2002). Like anyevolving language, accounting as a language has seen many changes which hasbeen discussed and researched extensively over the years. According to Evans(2010), prior literature on accounting as a language is limited.
This isbecause authors such as Yamey (1961) et al as listed in this article focused onaccounting terminologies and its introduction in English, linguistic theories,and the origin of words rather than stating the reasons and motivations behindthe change in accounting language. Evans (2010) on the other hand draws outthree points to aid in bridging this research gap on accounting as alanguage. The points include; the reasons for and the mechanismsof language change, accounting as a language for specific purpose, andlastly, the motivations behind language change and innovative ways to improvelanguage change in accounting such as the origin and conditions surrounding thechanges in accounting language.
The author also used theoretical concepts todiscuss in detail accounting as a changing language.To begin with, what are thereasons for and mechanisms for language change? Evans (2010) draws on Thomson(2006) to establish the view that, language change occurs when there is contactwith other languages and cultures. An example cited by Evans (2010) from theworks of Parker (1989) suggests that, some Italian words such as capital(replacing stock) and cash (replacing money) found in English language books ondouble-entry accounting were adapted between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,as early authors including English authors came into contact with Italians andother Europeans. The contact with other cultures results in language change tooften take the form of either “borrowing”or “loan translation” as cited by Evans (2010) with reference to Thomson, 2006; Grzega, 2003, Matthews, 1997; et al. Thus, the adaptation of foreign conceptsand ideas can cause either a semantic change, where an existing word is appliedto a new concept (Matthews, 1997; Grzega, 2003) or new word being created fromthe material offered by the speaker’s language (Grzega, 2003). In my opinion,language like culture is dynamic and language can be influential due to thespeaker’s ability to communicate effectively.
Good and effective communicationmakes it easy for other cultures to adapt a particular language. It is uponadaptation that words could have an equivalent meaning or a slightly differentmeaning such as the word Sushi which has taken on a slightly different meaningin English from that in their respective original language as cited by Evans(2010; with reference to Traught, 2006). Secondly, Evans (2010) arguesthat, accounting like any other profession is a language of specific purposethus accounting professionals depend on specialized terms to communicateeffectively.
With reference to Crystal (2003, p.174), Evans argues that, thereare registers or jargons that facilitate communication among professionalgroups which help to define the identity of these groups. Examples of suchaccounting jargons as defined by the New York State Society of Certified PublicAccountants include; Accrual, Accumulated depreciation, Asset turnover,Callable, First In First Out, etc. Furthermore, accounting professionals areencouraged to use everyday language when communicating with non-accountantsbecause, these jargons or registered words will be interpreted differently amongstother groups. In effect, professional groups should know when to use”specialized vocabulary” or everyday language as an effective tool forcommunication.
Evans (2010) with reference to Abbott (1988, p.61) placesemphasis on the importance stating publicly the terminologies of a professionalgroup. According to the above named authors, this helps to publicly extend andsupport the authority and status of professionals. To conclude, it can be said that,the theories and concepts discussed by Evans (2010) contributes extensively toliterature on accounting as a changing language.
The concept of motivations,mechanism and the idea of finding innovative ways to improve accountinglanguage is a modern approach to bridging the gap in prior literature. In myopinion, an innovative way to improve accounting as a language is to foremostview accounting as a medium of communication just like every language. Thismeans, the communication process must be done effectively and efficiently usingclear and precise words.
Due to this, further research should be done oneffective communication in accounting. This is because, accounting is acontinuous communication process and for accountants to meet the expectation ofdecision makers in the company, they must communicate any accountinginformation effectively using clear and accurate terms or words (Johnson,2002). Reference list Publication- “If Accounting is the Language of Business, WhyAren’t We Communicating”Published in the UVSC School of Business Journal,Volume 1, Winter 2002