There are three plural allomorphs in English:
- /z/, the most general form (dogs, /dɒɡz/)
- /s/, which appears after voiceless consonants (cats, /kæts/)
- /ɨz/, which appears after sibilants (horses, /ˈhɔrsɨz/).
The child is presented with a drawing of an 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 there are two of them. There are two...?" Children who have successfully acquired the allomorph /z/ of the plural morpheme will respond: wugs /wʌɡz/.
Very young children 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/ after a voiced consonant, and generally say that there are two wugs, with a /z/; they do almost as well with the voiceless /s/. They do less well in dealing with /z/ in other environments such as after nasals, rhotics, and vowels. Children in the first year of primary school were almost fully competent with both /s/ and /z/. Both preschool and first-grade children dealt poorly with /ɨz/, giving the correct answer less than half the time, possibly because it occurs in the most restrictive context. Also, because the root of the test word often ended in /s/ in these cases, the children may have assumed that the word was already in its plural form. Even though the children were all able to produce the real plural "glasses" they generally responded two "tass" rather than two "tasses" when shown more than one nonsense creature called a "tass".
The Wug Test also includes questions that explore a child's understanding of verb conjugation and the possessive. Additional items were designed to investigate children's ability to handle common derivational morphemes such as the agentive -er (a man who "zibs" is a ....?). Very young children (preschoolers) form compounds rather than agentives with -er. (e.g. a man whose job is to "zib" is a "zibman"). A final series of questions called on the children to explain common compound words in their vocabulary ("Why is a birthday called a birthday?"). Young children also explain compound words in terms of their cultural, rather than linguistic, features (e.g. a birthday is called "birthday" because one receives presents).
The major finding of the wug test was that even very young children have already internalized systematic aspects of the linguistic system that enable them to produce plurals, past tenses, possessives, and other forms of words that they have never heard before. The test has been replicated many times, and it has proven very robust. It was the first experimental proof that young children have extracted generalizable rules from the language around them.
The original Wug Test is reported in Gleason's article "The Child's Learning of English Morphology," Word 14:150-77 (1958).
Read more about this topic: Wug Test
Other articles related to "words">description, descriptions":
... Whether this is a description of ventricular fibrillation is debatable ... The next recorded description occurs 3000 years later and is recorded by Vesalius, who described the appearance of "worm-like" movements of the heart in animals ... The significance and clinical importance of these observations and descriptions possibly of ventricular fibrillation were not recognised until John ...
... He gives a vivid and accurate description of the last colony of the European Beaver in Wales on the River Teifi, but spoils it by repeating the legend that beavers castrate themselves ... Likewise he gives a good description of an Osprey fishing, but adds the mythical detail that the bird has one webbed foot ... His description of Irish wildlife was harshly called "worthless" the better view perhaps is that despite its faults it gives a valuable glimpse of Irish fauna in the 1180s ...
... impression, using descriptive language, and organizing the description are the rhetorical choices to be considered when using a description ... A description is usually arranged spatially but can also be chronological or emphatic ... The focus of a description is the scene ...
... Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI, pronounced Yu-diː) is a platform-independent, Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based registry by which businesses worldwide can list themselves ... to be interrogated by SOAP messages and to provide access to Web Services Description Language (WSDL) documents describing the protocol bindings and ...
... Unlike the keywords attribute, the description attribute is supported by most major search engines, like Yahoo! and Bing, while Google will fall back on this tag when information about the page ... The description attribute provides a concise explanation of a Web page's content ... page authors to give a more meaningful description for listings than might be displayed if the search engine was unable to automatically create its own description based on ...
Famous quotes containing the word description:
“To give an accurate description of what has never occurred is not merely the proper occupation of the historian, but the inalienable privilege of any man of parts and culture.”
—Oscar Wilde (18541900)
“The Sage of Toronto ... spent several decades marveling at the numerous freedoms created by a global village instantly and effortlessly accessible to all. Villages, unlike towns, have always been ruled by conformism, isolation, petty surveillance, boredom and repetitive malicious gossip about the same families. Which is a precise enough description of the global spectacles present vulgarity.”
—Guy Debord (b. 1931)
“Why does philosophy use concepts and why does faith use symbols if both try to express the same ultimate? The answer, of course, is that the relation to the ultimate is not the same in each case. The philosophical relation is in principle a detached description of the basic structure in which the ultimate manifests itself. The relation of faith is in principle an involved expression of concern about the meaning of the ultimate for the faithful.”
—Paul Tillich (18861965)