It was a simple question, I thought. Worth 30 points on an Intermediate Accounting final exam, I was expecting a yes or no answer with appropriate reasoning. Knock my socks off, I asked them.

The rest of the world uses FIFO, but does not permit LIFO.
Should the U.S. continue to use LIFO?

Little was I prepared for one student’s response, “Meh, no.”

I could have handled mais oui (yes, with emphasis) or mais non (no) because I took French in ninth grade. I still remember, “Je ne parle pas Français,” but prefer to say, “Mais, non,” when asked if I speak French.

It might have been better for the student to answer a yes or no type of question with either oui or non, but he didn’t. He responded meh.

Dare I admit I didn’t know what it means? Refusing to admit guilt (hey, the SEC doesn’t require it from crooks paying fines and damages for committing fraud), I asked my colleagues on AECM (e-mail listserv for accounting professors) if they knew what it meant.

No one did, but two looked it up:

Indifference; to be used when one simply does not care.

The folks on AECM went on for a while about the need to use proper English in school (and later on in professional life), but I think they missed the point. It’s a word that is commonly used to communicate a specific meaning. And when used in a formal setting, adds emphasis!!!!!!! At least no one gave me a series of exclamation points.

The student could have mounted a spirited defense of meh, arguing that in an era of convergence (or lack there of), it simply doesn’t matter. Or perhaps LIFO is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately, the student wandered around for a couple hundred words, then turned to other questions on the exam.

If the SEC ever polls us on whether we should keep GAAP, the survey instrument better have four boxes to check:

by David Albrecht

This post was originally published at The Summa on December 21, 2011.

1 Comment

Filed under Writing

One response to “Meh?

  1. Students: They are precious. And they make me laugh! 🙂

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