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ENGLISH FOR ACADEMIC & PROFESSIONAL PURPOSES

Professional Texts: Definition, Types, Language, and Purpose

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In his book Professional Discourse, Kong (2014) defines professionals as those who have completed specialist training or education required for membership in certain professions. The communication that they engage in to achieve their goal in the workplace is referred to as professional discourse, and the output they produce as a result of their professional discourse is referred to as professional texts.

Professional texts are forms of communication written in the workplace with the intent to accomplish a goal, be it an increase in sales, the dissemination of a certain policy, or the launch of a new product. In most cases, both the writer and the reader of professional texts are professionals who wish to achieve their goals in the workplace. Although these professionals may represent different organizations and have different professional expertise, they affirm their similarity as reflected in their common goal. Examples of professional texts include research papers, business reports, commentaries, guidebooks, legal documents,
government memoranda, and other forms of professional writing reflecting context-specific language, issues, and practices.

In Professional Discourse (Kong, 2014), workplace communication is
classified as:

This is the kind of communication that takes place in a particular context or profession, such as the communication that takes place among professionals in the academic, hospital or engineering setting, or those in the legal profession. This kind of discourse may be compared to a linear form of communication taking place among people who have the same professional expertise and are in the same professional field. They share the same lingo or vocabulary and are confronted with the same work-related issues. The relationship is parallel and no one is higher or lower than the other.

This is communication between professionals from different fields. An example of this type of communication is what takes place between medical doctors and medical representatives, between civil engineers and architects, between school administrators and textbook writers. The communication that takes place as a result of the transaction between and among these professionals may be described as non-linear, since the professionals here do not operate within the same work environment. They are not confronted by the same work-related issues and the language they use in the workplace is different due to their varied contexts.

This is the transaction that happens between lawyers and their clients; advertisers and their target customers; interior decorators and their clients; architects and homeowners. In this type of discourse, the communication will result in a mutually beneficial transaction, although it is possible that not both are professionals. In terms of status, one may be more superior in academic qualification or expertise. For example, in the transaction between a lawyer and a lay client, only the lawyer understands the complexities of the legal profession. The transaction relies heavily on the lawyer’s professional expertise, leaving the client totally dependent on the lawyer.

One of the defining characteristics of professional text is its language which is characterized by the following:

Professional text uses language that can be easily understood by its intended readers in the corporate setting. The purpose is stated explicitly through clarity and brevity of meaning. Because of its straightforward approach, professional texts do not waste the reader’s time. Notice how the sample professional text refrains from using jargon.

The aim of professional text is always to establish good relationships and bring about a favorable response that leads to positive action. When you read a professional text, you will get the sense that something needs to be accomplished but at the same time it is done with courtesy and tact. There is a sense of a smile or a handshake being extended when reading between the lines while encouraging the reader to take action. Professional texts aim to make both the writer and the reader arrive at informed decisions that would be beneficial to the professional organizations that they represent.

Professional text differs from literary writing and casual writing, or writing meant to entertain, inspire or tell a story. It is also different from academic writing which is more formal and uses the third person and passive voice. Professional text has a seriousness in tone and adheres to rules of correct and formal writing but is less formal and often uses the active voice. In the sample professional text, notice how the professional text resembles any ordinary business document. But like academic writing, professional text consists of an interesting and eye-catching introduction, a well-organized and clearly explained body,
and an effective conclusion.

Professional texts are generally written to disseminate information to and for professionals in a particular industry but it usually has the following underlying purposes:

Example: Medical doctors writing professional texts to senators appealing for the approval of marijuana as a form of treatment

Example:

Advertisers writing a professional text informing their clients about a new product or service

Example:

Advertisers writing a professional text informing their clients about a new product or service

Example:

A group of civil engineers writing to the DOST (Department of Science and Technology) to request funding for a building project

Example:

The Human Resources Department of a company issues a memo to its employees containing guidelines on how to file a leave of absence.

Example:

A president of a company affirming another university president regarding their policy on research initiatives, salary hike, consortium

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