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Language and Translation in Accounting


Special issue call for papers from Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

Guest Editors:

Lisa Evans, Stirling University, lisa.evans@stir.ac.uk
Rania Kamla, Heriot Watt University, r.kamla@hw.ac.uk

About the special issue

 

‘Translation is a vital part of achieving the IFRS Foundation's mission to develop a single set of high-quality global accounting standards for use around the world’ (IASB website)
 

‘… translation is a highly manipulative activity that involves all kind of stages in that process of transfer across linguistic and cultural boundaries. Translation is not an innocent, transparent activity but it is highly charged with significance at every stage; it rarely, if ever, involves a relationship of equality between texts, authors or systems’ (Bassnett and Trivedi 2012, p.2)
 
Translation – across languages and cultures - plays a critical role in accounting. It is required in international trade, in operating and accounting for multinational enterprises, in creating, implementing and enforcing international accounting laws and standards, in delivering accounting education to international cohorts of students, and in conducting international and intercultural research. Financial statements and annual reports, standards and standard setting discourse, teaching materials and publication of research findings all require translation for at least some constituents. Accounting research explores annual report narratives or regulatory discourse, employs content analysis or disclosure indices, conducts interview, experimental and survey research, and draws on theoretical frameworks, all often across cultural and language boundaries.
 

However, exact equivalence in translation is rare; there is no one-to one semantic correspondence of concepts between different language-cultures (Catford 1965; Venuti, 1995). This is especially the case when a subject or discipline – such as accounting - is culture-specific, socially constructed, inherently indeterminate or ideological (Evans et al., 2015, Evans 2004). It cannot be assumed, therefore, that ‘all ways of viewing the social world can be straightforwardly captured using the English language’ (Temple, p.100), nor that an objective reality can be obtained by translation (Xian, 2008). Instead, translation is implicated in uneven power relationships (Bassnett and Trivedi, p.3; Simon, 1997). In spite of this, with few exceptions, accounting largely appears to neglect translation – both as a research opportunity and as a methodological and epistemological consideration. This is in contrast to the ‘translation turn’ in other disciplines. However, research on language use and translation in accounting has the potential to have real world impact – for example, the IFRS Foundation has recently called for research on language and cultural influences on the international application of its standards. Finally, engagement with translation does not have to be limited to interlingual translation, but can include all aspects of translation – in the wider sense – across cultures and disciplines.
 

This AAAJ special issue intends to open up the opportunity to explore these interrelationships and aims to encourage research that develops diverse and multicultural approaches to accounting thought. We encourage submissions that address topics relating to language, culture and translation in accounting, auditing and accountability. Possible topics may include, but are not restricted to:
  •  Limits of equivalence in accounting translation.
  •  Problems and opportunities of ambiguity in accounting terminology.
  • Translation and power: communication, dissemination, legitimisation, lobbying, social change, (post-)colonialism.
  • Ideological, cultural, social, legal and/or political implications of translation and non-translation in accounting
  • Cognitive and cultural bias and vested interests in translation.
  • English as a lingua franca: cultural dominance, values, identities and ideologies.
  • Transformation of accounting systems and cultures, professions, societal and (inter-)cultural contexts of change.
  • Professional socialization in international contexts.
  • International accounting education.
  • Accounting history across languages and cultures: translation and language change.
  • Implications for standard setting, consultation and the IASB due process.
  • Implications for implementation of international accounting rules/standards.
  • Probability/uncertainty expressions in accounting standards.
  • Translations of rules versus principles.
  • Economic implications of accounting translation.
  • Accounting research across languages and cultures: research instruments, narratives, experiments, surveys, interviews and oral history, theoretical frameworks in translation (Foucault, Bourdieu, Weber, Habermas etc.).
  • Implications for translation of the dissemination of research findings in English language academic journals.

Submitting to the issue

  • Initial submission deadline: 30 June 2017. The link for submissions will open in early 2017.

References

Bassnett, S. and Trivedi, H. (2012), Postcolonial Translation: Theory and Practice. Routledge.
Catford, J. C. (1965), A Linguistic Theory of Translation: An Essay in Applied Linguistics, Oxford University Press, London.
Evans, L. (2004), “Language, translation and the problem of international accounting communication”, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 210-48.
Evans, L., Baskerville, R., & Nara, K. (2015), “Colliding Worlds: Issues Relating to Language Translation in Accounting and Some Lessons from Other Disciplines”, Abacus, Vol. 51, No.1, pp. 1-36.
IASB websites: http://www.ifrs.org/IFRS-Research/Research-opportunities/Pages/General-issues.aspx#3 and http://www.ifrs.org/Use-around-the-world/IFRS-translations/Pages/IFRS-translations.aspx
Simon, S. (1997), “Translation, Postcolonialism and Cultural Studies”, Meta: Journal des traducteurs/Meta:Translators' Journal, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 462-477.
Temple, B. (2013), “Casting a wider net: reflecting on translation in oral history”, Oral History, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 100-109.
Venuti, L. (1995), The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation, Routledge, London.
Xian, H. (2008) “Lost in translation? Language, culture and the roles of translator in cross‐cultural management research”, Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 231 – 245.

Selected further reading
Alexander, D. (1993),  “A European True and Fair View?”,  European Accounting Review, Vol. 2, No.1, pp.17-46.
Archer, S. and McLeay S. (1991), “Issues in transnational financial reporting: A linguistic analysis”, Journal of Multilingual & Multicultural Development, Vol.12, No.5, pp.347-61.
Baskerville, R.F. and Evans, L. (2011), The darkening glass: Issues for translation of IFRS, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, Edinburgh.
Belkaoui, A. (1978), “Linguistic relativity in accounting”, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol.3, No.2, pp.97-104.
Davidson, R.A. and Chrisman, H.H. (1993), “Interlinguistic comparison of international accounting standards: The case of uncertainty expressions”, International Journal of Accounting, Vol.28, No.1, pp.1-16.
Davidson, R.A. and Chrisman, H.H. (1994), “Translations of uncertainty expressions in Canadian accounting and auditing standards”, Journal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation, Vol.3, No.2, pp.187-203.
Doupnik, T.S. and Richter, M. (2003), “Interpretation of uncertainty expressions: A cross-national study”, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol.28, No.1, pp.15-35.
Doupnik, T.S. and Richter, M. (2004), “The impact of culture on the interpretation of “in context” verbal probability expressions”, Journal of International Accounting Research, Vol.3, No.1, pp.1-20.
Fuertes-Olivera, P.A. and Nielsen, S. (2014), “The dynamics of accounting terms in a globalized environment: The role of English as Lingua Franca”, in Temmerman, R. and Campenhoudt, M. V. (eds) Dynamics and Terminology: An Interdisciplinary Perspective on Monolingual and Multilingual Culture-Bound Communication. John Benjamins.
Huerta, E., Petrides, Y., and Braun, G. P. (2013), “Translation of IFRS: Language as a barrier to comparability”, Research in Accounting Regulation, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp.1-12.
Nobes, C. (2006), “The survival of international differences under IFRS: Towards a research agenda”, Accounting and Business Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp.233-45.
Parker, R. H., (2001), “Read with Care: Financial Reporting Translations”, Accountancy, June, p.102.
Wong, P. H. Y. (2004), Challenges and successes in implementing international standards: achieving convergence to IFRSs and ISAs, New York: International Federation of Accountants.
Zeff, S.A. (2007), “Some obstacles to global financial reporting comparability and convergence at a High Level of Quality”, The British Accounting Review, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp.290-302.