How Do You Spell That?

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Is correct spelling important? You would think the spelling of words appearing on money would be more important than other uses, but this is not always the case. Reuters has reported that the central bank of Kazakhstan misspelled the word “bank” on their new 2,000 and 5,000-tenge bank notes and the bank wants to put these notes into circulation next month.

The tenge is also known by the acronym KZT on world currency markets. A 2,000 tenge bank note is currently equivalent to $15.65 in United States dollars.

Although there is a Kazakh language, Russian was the spoken language and Cyrillic the written language while Kazakhstan was a member state of the Soviet Union. Since becoming an independent state in 1991, their native language has become a national symbol, according to Reuters.

Despite the fact that Kazakh has been the country's official language since achieving independence some 15 years ago, the word “bank” on these new bank notes is spelled using the Cyrillic form of the Kazakh word for “bank”, according to Reuters. Specifically, the word used for the Kazakh form of “bank” is an alternate word using a Cyrillic “K”, making for an alternate pronunciation as well.

Kazakh politicians are not amused. Reuters reports that members of the Kazakh parliament have written a letter to President Nursultan Nazarbayev saying, “The mistake … is not just a spelling problem -- it has political undertones.” The politicians have urged the central bank to abandon the notes, while the bank plans to circulate the notes, withdraw them gradually and replace them with notes showing proper spellings.

As important as spelling is on national currency. how important is spelling to accountants, in their pursuit of accounting integrity and correctness? With all the references found using accountants and spelling together, yes is probably a resounding answer.

To start, think of all the uses of the root word “account”. This includes some very important uses of the word. According to the “biggest viewable dictionary on the 'net”,, those words are:

  • accountably
  • accountancy
  • accountant
  • accountants
  • accountship
  • accounted

Also, if you look at job descriptions for most accounting opportunities, you will find that language skills, including spelling and vocabulary, are expected of accounting candidates, right along with their knowledge of GAAP practices, as core competencies.

Courses are even offered in areas of spelling and terminology. BrainCorp offers one such course called “Accounting – Spelling". The description reads, “The … test package measures the office skills crucial for success when working in an accounting environment…”, according to their web site.

Skill assessment companies, such as Assessment Systems Corporation, also offer computerized skill testing in “Accounting Terminology,” according to their web site. You would think that proper spelling would be important in using terminology. The Frontline Source Group also offers assessments in “Accounting Terminology” but covers “Financial Spelling” as well, according to their web site.

There has even been a book written especially for accountants concerning both effective written and oral communication. The book is titled Effective Writing: A Handbook for Accountants and was written by Claire and Gordon May. The book currently is in its sixth edition.

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