Where Accountants Come From
...A Little Bit Of History
If you're interested in this sort of thing, both the words accounting and accountancy were in use in Great Britain by the mid-1800s, and are derived from the words "accompting" and "accountantship". In Middle English (used roughly between the 12th and late 15th century), the verb "to account" had the form "accounten", which was derived from the Old French word "aconter", in turn related to the Vulgar Latin word "computare" (meaning "to reckon"). The base of "computare" is "putare", which variously meant to prune, to purify or to correct an account - hence, to count, calculate, or think.
The word accountant is derived from the French word "compter", which is also derived from the Latin word "computare". It was formerly written in English as "accomptant", which was always pronounced by dropping the "p", and in time gradually changed both in pronunciation and orthography to its present form.
The history of accounting is thousands of years old and can be traced to ancient civilizations. The early development of accounting dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, and is closely related to developments in writing, counting and money. There's also evidence for early forms of bookkeeping in ancient Iran and early auditing systems by the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. By the time of the Emperor Augustus, the Roman government had access to detailed financial information.
Double-entry bookkeeping developed in medieval Europe, and accounting split into financial accounting and management accounting with the development of joint-stock companies. On November 10th 1494 a book titled "Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita" (Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion) by Luca Pacioli was published in Venice that contained the first ever essay on double-entry bookkeeping and provided a base for other works on mercantile accounting. November 10th is now celebrated as internationally as Accountants Day.
Accounting began to transition into an organized profession in the 19th century, with local professional bodies in England merging to form the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in 1880.
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