Title: T-account as a device of rhetoric - positive and negative numbers in double-entry bookkeeping

Authors: Masaya Fujita

Addresses: Kyushu University, Moto-oka 744, Nishi-ku, Fukuoka City, 819-0395, Japan

Abstract: In an accounting procedure, using the negative numbers when computing profit/loss cannot be avoided. Accounting cannot avoid plus and minus. For example, supposing a profit is thought of as positive, then a loss will be regarded as negative. Assuming that assets are thought of as positive, then it is reasonable to presume that liabilities are regarded as negative. However, we have never seen negative numbers in any account books from their birth to now. The reason is because it was difficult for medieval Italian merchants to recognise the negative number directly. Rather, they recognised it by making use of rhetoric. The T-account has functioned as a rhetorical device.

Keywords: rhetoric in accounting; T-account; positive and negative number; duality; additive subtraction; proprietorship accounting; entity theory.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCA.2021.118333

International Journal of Critical Accounting, 2021 Vol.12 No.4, pp.279 - 293

Received: 10 Nov 2020
Accepted: 10 Feb 2021

Published online: 20 Oct 2021 *

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