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Which is correct?

  1. This is Dr. Yang Jeng-Tze, professor of entomology.
  2. This is Dr. Yang Jeng-Tze, a professor of entomology.
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Related: Use or omit “the” before profession? –  RegDwigнt Mar 18 '12 at 3:44
    
@RegDwight: I think really this one, your link, this other question and my answer here are all part of the same phenomena. In different contexts, either the or no article at all is most prestigious, but a/an is always the lower status. –  FumbleFingers Mar 18 '12 at 4:17

1 Answer 1

Since OP's context isn't "...of entomology at some establishment" there's no reason to be concerned over whether the establishment has more than one professor of entomology.

Having said that, if our professor really was the only one then even if that was the context, he'd obviously be introduced without an article. But in a context where that distinction doesn't need to be made, he can still be introduced without the article, which is slightly more "deferential".

Consider, for example...

Miss Mabel E. Smith, teacher of penmanship, resigns to accept a position in Atlantic City.

...where we don't know or care where she teaches, or whether there are any other teachers of penmanship there. Adding an article there would detract from Miss Smith's social status, I feel.

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Right, I think if it is being used as a title, there is no 'a'. When it is added as a non-restrictive adjectival clause an 'a' is used. –  Jim Mar 18 '12 at 3:39
    
I think you're completely wrong to say that "we don't know or care where she teaches". Even from what little context we can see in the Google Books extract, it's clear that the context of this sentence is a report on teachers leaving a specific school. –  Peter Taylor Mar 18 '12 at 13:12
    
@Peter Taylor: Placed in the exact context where it occurred, I agree. But we here don't know or care (unless we're minded to follow the link), and it would be no surprise if in fact the context didn't specify any particular school. I just liked that example better than one about, say, "John Smith, attorney at law,..." where it usually wouldn't mention which state he was licensed to practice in. –  FumbleFingers Mar 18 '12 at 15:25
    
Thanks, everyone! Actually, the original context is like this. "Just a few miles away, at National Chung Hsing University, there is a man who shares Ango’s obsession with crickets. This is Dr. Yang Jeng-Tze, professor of entomology. " I'm not sure whether there should be an article there. –  IVY Mar 19 '12 at 12:19
    
@IVY: Even if Chung Hsing University specialised in entomology, and had dozens of professors in that discipline, I don't think anyone would use the article in your precise context! –  FumbleFingers Mar 19 '12 at 12:30

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