Quotation Alexander, David, de Brebisson, Hélène, Circa, Cristina, Eberhartinger, Eva, Fasiello, Roberta, Grottke, Markus, Krasodomska, Joanna. 2018. Philosophy of language and accounting. Accounting, Auditing, and Accountability Journal. 31 (7), 1957-1980.




Purpose: Accounting practices vary not only across firms, but also across countries, reflecting the respective legal and cultural background. Attempts at harmonization therefore continue to be rebuffed. The purpose of this paper is to argue that different wordings in national laws, and different interpretations of similar wordings in national laws, can be explained by taking recourse to the philosophy of language, referring particularly to Searle and Wittgenstein. Design/methodology/approach: The example of the substance over form principle, investigated in seven countries, is particularly suitable for this analysis. It is known in all accounting jurisdictions, but still has very different roots in different European countries, with European and international influences conflicting, which is reflected in the different wording of the principle from one country to the next, and the different socially constructed realities associated with those wordings. Findings: This paper shows that, beyond accounting practices, the legal and cultural background of a country affects the wording of national law itself. The broad conclusion is that different socially constructed realities might tend to resist any attempt at harmonized socially constructed words. Originality/value: The paper contributes to the debate surrounding the possible homogenization of accounting regulations, illustrating the theory of the social construction of both “reality” and “language” on the specific application of one common principle to various Member State environments.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Accounting, Auditing, and Accountability Journal
Citation Index SSCI
WU Journalrating 2009 A
WU-Journal-Rating new FIN-A, STRAT-B, WH-B
Language English
Title Philosophy of language and accounting
Volume 31
Number 7
Year 2018
Page from 1957
Page to 1980
Reviewed? Y
DOI https://dx.doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-06-2017-2979
Open Access Y
Open Access Link https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/AAAJ-06-2017-2979


Eberhartinger, Eva (Details)
Alexander, David (University of Birmingham, United Kingdom)
Circa, Cristina (Universitatea de Vest din Timisoara, Romania)
de Brebisson, Hélène (IESEG, France)
Fasiello, Roberta (University of Salento, Italy)
Grottke, Markus (University of Passau, Germany)
Krasodomska, Joanna (Krakow University of Economics, Poland)
Business Taxation Group AB (Details)
Research Institute for International Taxation FI (Details)
Research Institute for Cryptoeconomics FI (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5307 Business and management economics (Details)
5327 Accounting (Details)
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