The Oxford Biblical Studies Online and Oxford Islamic Studies Online have retired. Content you previously purchased on Oxford Biblical Studies Online or Oxford Islamic Studies Online has now moved to Oxford Reference, Oxford Handbooks Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, or What Everyone Needs to Know®. For information on how to continue to view articles visit the subscriber services page.

Related Content

Related Overviews


More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Science and technology
  • Psychology


Show Summary Details


wug test

Quick Reference

A test designed to investigate the acquisition of plural-formation and other rules of grammar. A child is presented with an imaginary object and is told, ‘This is a wug’. Then a second instance is presented, and the child is asked what the two are called. The correct answer is wugs, pronounced with a voiced /z/ sound, as in dogs, because the plural-forming letter follows a voiced consonant /g/. After a voiceless consonant such as /t/, the plural-forming letter should be a voiceless /s/, as in cats, and after a sibilant, an additional syllable should have a voiced /z/, as in verses. To investigate understanding of other grammatical rules, the test includes questions such as ‘What do you call a man who zibs?’ the correct answer being a zibber. Even very young children are able to produce correct plurals, past tenses, and possessives of words that they have never heard before, showing that they have internalized abstract linguistic rules. The test was introduced by the US psychologist Jean Berko (born 1931, later called Jean Berko Gleason) in an article in the journal Word in 1958. See also assimilation (3), implicit learning. [A deliberately constructed nonsense word]

Reference entries