Academic journal article The Accounting Historians Journal

An Accounting Thesaurus: 500 Years of Accounting

Academic journal article The Accounting Historians Journal

An Accounting Thesaurus: 500 Years of Accounting

Article excerpt

R. J. Chambers, An Accounting Thesaurus: 500 Years of Accounting (Oxford: Elsevier Science Ltd., 1995, 1011 pp. $88).

Reviewed by

Gary John Previts

Case Western Reserve University

Not since 1950, when Eric Kohler's A Dictionary for Accountants was first published for the English language, has another volume of comparative writing appeared which has the clear potential to shape the study of this language's accounting meanings and its development of accounting thought. Chambers' work represents a contribution to academics, practice thinkers and students who undertake to approach our discipline's literature as one might the history of thought of any other field.

In his recent review of Chambers' Thesaurus in Abacus, Frank Clarke calls this volume a "Treasury of Accounting Thought." As well, he thoroughly recounts the structure and form of the volume. To restate these items here would seem redundant and therefore I refer you to his review for that information.

The display of ideas provided by Chambers is structured in a meaningful manner. The form of the outline and the definition of the code of abbreviations should assist users as demand for and understanding of the utility of this work derives over time. One does not, in my view, undertake to "read" a Thesaurus, even when doing a review as in this instance. Rather, I explored the volume. Perhaps what begins to explain its value best is to describe it as a necessary aid to an intellectually curious and inquiring mind in our discipline.

Having worked for more than two decades with doctoral students and graduate students in a variety of settings there are times when one wishes one could access a readily structured comparative literature display of the meanings of our terms. This work responds well to that need. Chambers' characterizes his work as "a view of the past with an eye to the future" [p. xii]. Indeed it's value to our discipline will be judged on the ability to serve as a useful guide and validating interpretation to the English language literature which has evolved since the appearance of the major professional journals of record such as Accountancy and The Journal of Accountancy about a century ago. This attribute may be most valuable in the next stage of development of global standards for the profession. …

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