It's been my opinion throughout this discussion that in the intended
meaning, there is no difference between responsiblity and accountability,
namely, as indicated in Annette Huang's researched reply, that one means
you are subject to give an account of your action and the other that you
are subject to responding to inquiry.
Our discussion here arises, I think, from the sense that the word
"account" has developed in our language, one that implies tangibles on a
balance sheet. (In English, "telling" and "counting" once meant the same
thing, but their meanings have diverged, except in certain specific uses.)
It appears to me that a consequence of this distinction is that when
speaking of "accountability" people often mean responsibility which bears
with it reward or penalty. At the same time, "responsibility" has shifted
in meaning slightly, so that it is often used in an organizational/social
context to mean an expectation of performance.
English is an extremely subtle and various language, partially because so
many language streams feed it, and partially because a series of
rebellions against the Crown has led historically to looser strictures on
the dynamic character of the language.
>I'm thinking that if there is to be discussion
>about definitions, we should go back to the source.
>Therefore, for what it's worth:
>According to the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1991,
>Accountability = Accountableness: The quality or fact of being
>accountable or liable to give account and answer for conduct;
>responsibility; amenableness (_to_ a person, _for_ a thing).
>Earliest citation: 1688 Honyman, _Surv.Naphtali_ (1669) II 64.
>Subordination to the Prince as to direction, accountableness, or
>The earliest citation for Accountable (as in called to account) is
>There are 5 slightly differing definitions of 'Accountable'.
>Responsibility: The state or fact of being responsible.
>Responsible: Answerable, accountable; liable to be called to account.
>Earliest citation: 1643. Prynne _Sov. Power Parl._ III Appl. 12. To
>hold this Popish erroneous opinion, that they are in no case
>responsible for their whole kingdomes or Parliaments for their
>There are 6 slightly different definitions for 'Responsible.'
-- Jack Hirschfeld With the clear undertanding that email@example.com this kind of thing can happen, shall we dance?