Jean Berko Gleason - Wug Test

Wug Test

Gleason is best known for having created the wug test, a test of children's knowledge of morphology. She created this test as part of her dissertation research, demonstrating that young children learn important aspects of language by finding patterns in the language that they hear around them, rather than by simply imitating others. Berko (Berko 1958) showed that young children had implicit knowledge of the English patterns for making noun plurals, verb tenses, and other basic morphological modifications to word stems, because they could attach the appropriate endings to nonsense words they could never have heard before. The research approach that she designed, now known familiarly as a “Wug Test”, shows children simple pictures of appealing imaginary creatures and activities, and asks the child questions about them: Here is a wug. Now in this picture, there are two of them. There are two…. This man likes to rick. Yesterday, he …. The resulting research report, The Child's Learning of English Morphology, has been reprinted (to date) in eleven different books of readings in language development and cognitive psychology.

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Wug Test - Description
... unfamiliar creature, often blue and bird-like, and told, "This is a wug." (Such reasonable but nonsensical words are sometimes called pseudowords.) Another wug is revealed, and the researcher says, "Now ... the allomorph /z/ of the plural morpheme will respond wugs /wʌɡz/ ... are baffled by the question and are unable to answer correctly, sometimes responding with "Two wug." Preschoolers aged 4 to 5 test best in dealing with /z ...

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    To answer a question so as to admit of no reply, is the test of a man.
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