Instructive Texts

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Publicat de: Alexe Miron Ifrim
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Profesor îndrumător / Prezentat Profesorului: Corcodel Svetlana

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Starting with Werlich (1982), many researchers within text linguistics and document design see instructive text as a category that is different from persuasive text. Others do not include either in their main typologies (e.g. Bonnet, 2002). However, instructive texts are a particular subtype of a persuasive text: instructive people are also persuading them to do something in a particular way or in a particular situation or in a particular order.

In the literature, two approaches to instructive texts can be distinguished: one in which instructive texts constitute a main text type and the order in which the instructive texts do not get that high a status. The former example Werlich (1982), who sees instructive texts as one clearly distinct type of text among the five main categories: description, narration, exposition, argumentation and instruction. Descriptive texts have an informative goal and are usually “tenseless”. The same informative goal can be found in narrative texts, but these are usually expressed in the past tense: there is a narrator who informs about a past event. Explanatory texts, too, are informative, but they contain many casual links and function as explanations. Another main text type with many casual links is the argumentative type. Its purpose, however, is not to inform but to convince people. Argumentative texts attempt at persuading people that the ideas expressed should also be upheld by the audience. The final text type recognized by Werlich is that of instructive texts. They are said to be directive: the writer’s aim is for the reader to be able to do something.

Another view is that instructive texts do not constitute a main text type at all. In Bonnet et al. (2001), only three text types are distinguished: narrative, informative and argumentative texts. Gorlach (2004), on the other hand, has a list of over 2,000 text types, each type having its own specific characteristics, compiled from a grid that is based on 25 encyclopedic components.

Actually, in my view, it is up to everyone to decide for his or herself how many types of texts are and which of these are the most important.

Instructive texts have been used for many centuries and have passed a long way in their development, specialization and interference with other genres.

A simplified classification of instructions is:

1. Consumers’ instructions to goods (instruction to a TV – set, to a bicycle etc.):

2. Annotations to drugs;

3. Departmental instructions (rules for filling the documents, rules for client’s behavior, customs declaration, fire safety precautions etc.);

4. Official instructions (rules of behavior for an employee in a certain position).

The basic predestination of instructive texts is to communicate relevant objective information and to prescribe the actions required in certain situations that are to regulate one’s actions. Thus, the implied communicative goal is: communicative and prescriptive.


The instructive texts are addressed to any adult citizen of a country. Consequently, the language of such texts should be intelligible for anyone; no special professional competence is required. Instructive tests do not usually contain narrow specialization terms known only to specialists. An exception may be the annotations to drugs, which can not be understood by the patient without a specialized dictionary; these are however addressed mostly to the doctors, not to patients.


The author of an instructive text is never known. However, the companies manufacturing the item, the ministry or department, are always indicated. Actually these instances are the source of the instructions, but they elaborate them according to some rigid rules, sometimes even regulated by specific legal documents.

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