Accounting terminology and translation – a linguistic challenge

Cathrine Norberg, Jeaneth Johansson

Abstract


This article focuses on linguistic comparability and the understanding of accounting terms between languages in the context of international standardization of accounting principles. By analyzing the translations of the American English term income in bilingual dictionaries (English/Swedish and Swedish/English), the complexity of translating accounting terms, and the risk of miscommunication involved in the process, is highlighted.

The study shows that non-technical uses of terms are commonly confused with technical uses, and that the information presented in bilingual technical dictionaries may be both incorrect and misleading. The research demonstrates the fuzzy nature of language, and shows that linguistic and cultural aspects in accounting communication cannot be ignored in the on-going work of standardizing accounting world-wide.


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