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Once upon a time there was a wonderland where there lived many different words. Every word-family lived by themselves, but all of them had a fantastic social life and many ties in the community. The place where they lived was called TOEFL city. The letter-citizens loved their city very much, but because they were awfully concerned about being politically correct, they were afraid to say that, for them, it was the best city in the world. So, they would always say that they loved their city because it was not a culturally, intellectually and esthetically challenged place. Everybody in the city was crazy about studying and learning new things. And, of course, they were terribly concerned about not showing that they were so intellectually advanced. They did all they could to make letter-persons from other cities feel at ease in their presence and that is why they would never stop saying that the more they learn, the less they know. They thought it was an appropriate excuse for their being so knowledge-thirsty. Anyway, they never stopped broadening the horizons of their knowledge. One of the most respected word-families in the community was the TOEFL one. Thanks to generous donations from this well-to-do family, tuition in colleges and universities remained the same from year to year. The citizens were so grateful that they decided to name the city after this family. Everybody in TOEFL city called them "Doctors", because all of them were learned persons and had doctoral degrees. There were two brother-letters and three sister-letters in the family:






Brother T

Brother O

Sister E

Sister F

Sister L






Associate Professor

Full Professor

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor

Research Associate

*Doctor of Letters - a post-doctoral degree in libral arts; DLitt - from the Latin doctor litterarum.

The eldest in the family was brother T. He was the Chairperson of the State Examination Board at TOEFL University, and nobody had had tenure longer than he had. He was nice, broad-minded and very widely read.

The next was brother O, a very kind and well-rounded person. Born into the family as a short preposition (Test of English as a Foreign Language), brother O, a full professor, proved by his example how much a person could succeed in her or his life by working hard and by zeroing in on a concrete idea.

His sisters E and F were both assistant professors and taught English and French at a university. They got on very well with each other because they were alike and had many common interests.

The letter-sister L, who had a post-doctoral degree in libral arts, was a research-associate at the Institute of World Literarure, TOEFL Academy of Sciences. She was a very learned letter, but she was not at all a goody-two-shoes. On the contrary, she was a lively, likeable and light-hearted person. She was very good at sports, and nobody could play golf better than she did: she was said to be just cut out for the game. She appreciated humor and irony and knew a lot of jokes, but she never told them: jokes were considered to be politically inappropriate, particularly those about dumb blondes. By the way, nobody in the city (except for the letter L from the TOEFL family) had blonde hair, because they did not want to provoke other persons to have inappropriate thoughts about them: everybody in TOEFL city was extremely ethically anxious.

The TOEFL family had very close friendly relations with the SWEETS family, who had immigrated from another country where they were declared healthily non grata. Here, in TOEFL city, they enjoyed great popularity because everyone had to think deeply and do a lot of intellectual work; that is why the TOEFL citizens needed more carbohydrates than other letter-persons did.

There were four brothers and two sisters in this family and all of them had to work their way through college: they all worked together as a sign at a British-style candy store.

The twin sisters е and е had a good ear for music. They were both cello majors at a conservatory and in the evenings they liked to play the cello and sing in their sweet voices. They were so beautiful in a natural way (it was considered inappropriate to wear make-up in their new parentland), that they could be described neither by words in a tale nor by a pen in writing. They suffered a lot from their beauty and did all they could to conceal it so that other female letters could not be hurt in their presence. That is why they always tried to look stooped and short, or better to say, vertically challenged.

The twin brothers S and S, cheerful and industrious, were both businesspersons. They were doing MBAs at a business school.

Brother T, tall and a bit melancholic, was particularly concerned about being politically correct. He was studying for a Master's degree in philosophy and seemed always preoccupied with his speculations about life. T was doing research into the problems of political correctness and its different interpretations in analytic and synthetic language-cultures. He believed that the best approach to the study of this phenomenon was a psycholinguistic one. Thus, he stated that letter-persons and word-families have closer and more apparent relations in synthetic languages with a case-ending system and that they are therefore more co-dependent, whereas in analytic languages (in English, for example) where the main stress is put on occupying the proper (private) place in the sentence hierarchy, there is often a necessity to create special rules to maintain the order and clarity in letters' and word-families' relations.

And at last there was brother W, who was a very special letter in the family. Though he was apparently dietarily challenged, he never seemed to worry about this. His major was economics, which was a very interesting course at his school, but W often missed classes. The faculty had no idea that he actually skipped out because he always tried to find some convincing excuses for his being tardy or cutting class. But as if that was not enough, he often cheated on exams too! And he was never caught cheating or exposed as a liar: he was a two-faced letter so he was able to pretend to be ethically minded and nice to persons in many respects... but in his diary he would write many inappropriate things about them.

Другие записи

10.06.2016. Вступление
В приложении к нашим урокам «TOEFL Sample Lessons» мы хотим представить вам лингвистическую сказку-шутку «TOEFL Fairy Tale», написанную Ларисой Коптеловой. Полное название сказки - «A modern politically…