Accountants get it wrong


Accountants are well known for abusing the  language. Maybe it’s because they don’t consider the language to have any value. Anyway, here’s the latest example. Apparently this firm of tax consultants intends to turn Joondalup, north of Perth and average elevation above sea level about ten metres, into the Australian Tyrol.

Some people may say, ‘why does it matter?’ I think it matters because this firm purports to take care of customers’ tax reporting and to be sufficiently detailed in matters fiscal to keep the tax authorities off peoples’ backs. Yet they apparently have no regard for the

language. So what else do they disregard?  It’s a question worth asking.


Tax accountants are not the only abusers of the English language. Here’s a sign on the wall of a real estate agent’s office. Unlike accountants, real estate agents are supposed to be good at communicating, yet this sign has been up there for at least two years. Either they should take out a redundant ‘what’, or they need to turn the possessive of you into the second person of the verb to be.

Sometimes I’m tempted to pop into the premises and point out the solecism – gaffe – dumb mistake – but so far I haven’t done it. Maybe it’s a lack of courage, though I think it’s more anticipating the complete apathy I’ll likely encounter – ‘so what?’ or in the modern idiom – ‘whatever’. And no doubt they’ll tag me as a grammar tragic.

But I’m not.

I don’t mind if my local supermarket has signs for the express checkout ‘ten items or less’. They’re grocers for God’s sake. And anyway, the sign reads well enough – ‘ten items or fewer’ wouldn’t have the same ring to it, although my local Woolworths might consider changing its current sign to ‘fifteen items or less’ to ‘fifteen items or fewer’. This works better in my opinion as the two-syllabled ‘fewer’ balances the two syllabled ‘fifteen’. There’s also an alliterative component there, with the repeated sound of the letter ‘f’. But now we’re onto f words, it’s probably time to end this.