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#127408 04/16/04 12:38 AM
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Calling business executives everyday I've noticed that most of the financial officers go by controller now, while a few still adhere to the original comptroller.

When did comptroller become controller, and why?


#127409 04/16/04 10:16 AM
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When did comptroller become controller, and why?

You got it backwards, Juan. OED lists comptroller as a 'an erroneous spelling of controller introduced c 1500…'


#127410 04/16/04 01:41 PM
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Here's an interesting quote from the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica:
COMPTROLLER, the title of an official whose business primarily was to examine and take charge of accounts, hence to direct or control, e.g. the English comptroller of the household, comptroller and auditor-general (head of the exchequer and audit department), comptroller-general of patents, &c., comptro]lergeneral (head of the national debt office). On the other hand, the word is frequently spelt controller, as in controller of the navy, controller or head of the stationery office. The word is used in the same sense in the United States, as comptroller of the treasury, an official who examines accounts and signs drafts, and comptroller of the currency, who administers the law relating to the national banks.
http://47.1911encyclopedia.org/C/CO/COMPTROLLER.htm (via Onelook)

I wonder if the comp- came from computation?


#127411 04/16/04 02:05 PM
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I wonder if the comp- came from computation?

According to A-H, partially:

http://www.bartleby.com/61/3/C0610300.html

Interestingly, the pronuciation of comptroller and controller used to be the same, but after a while people started to pronounce them differently. Cf. admiral and perfect.


#127412 04/17/04 09:52 PM
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Still comptroller in English here in Montréal but contrôleur in French.


#127413 04/25/04 11:19 PM
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When did comptroller become controller, and why?

Post-Enron optics, W'ON.

Comptrollers weren't doing much "controlling" before Enron and Worldcom imploded in scandal.

"Comptrollers" are supposed be "Controllers" of real numbers once again.

I'm sure it's only a fashion.


#127414 04/28/04 02:44 AM
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Thanks for all the great input, folks!

Seems to be a strange evolution, huh? Usually language seems to move from the heavy-handed to the more streamlined. But in this case, vice versa.

And, yep, tang, that's what happens when the gov't comps the controllers!


#127415 04/28/04 02:37 PM
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There is a National Association of Comptrollers. My Dad belonged. I Googled but got nothing definitive.


#127416 05/01/04 05:55 PM
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Back in the 70s I worked for the General Accounting Office, which is headed by the Comtroller General of the United States, who serves a 15-year term and retires on full salary.

When I went to work there, the CG was Elmer Staats, who was nearing the end of his term. Oddly enough, I mentioned to my father one day that Staats would be leaving soon, and he perked up his ears. "Would that be Elmer Boyd Staats?" "Yep," I replied. My father then told me that he had hired Staats out of college as a bookkeeper over 40 years before!

Now, to make this a word post. I was at a meeting of people who worked at GAO, and Staats was there to give us a rousing pep talk prior to a very onerous and difficult assignment's startup. All the high mucky-mucks in GAO were there to provide similar support, and the emcee went into this long introduction of Staats which concluded, "And now I want you to give a rousing hand to the Comptroller General, Elmer Staats, a man of HIGH MORAL TURPITUDE!" Grady, the emcee, doesn't work there any more.

Oh, the pronunciation of Comptroller was about evenly split between controller and COMPtroller.



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#127417 05/10/04 10:05 PM
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To be honest, I've never heard the word comptroller before. But my guess is that it changed to controller because deleting the p (and changing the m to an n) made it much easier to pronounce.


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