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Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Monday, April 11, 2022


IntroWho remembers your first class in psycholinguistics?  Or maybe that language acquisition class?  I remember being fascinated by wugs, and learning about the Wug Test.  But maybe you missed out on that experience?  Well, read on!

What Is a Wug? 
A 'wug' is an imaginary creature (see image) created by psycholinguist Jean Berko Gleason as part of 'The Wug Test.  Young children were presented with a fanciful creature or activity with a made-up (but plausible-sounding) pseudoword.  They were used to assess children's growing awareness of morphology (e.g., plurals, verb tenses, possessives).  and also helped determine current language skills for students with disabilities who were able to speak.  
This was a fun test to give, and most students found it fun to take.  

So How Else Can We Use Wugs?  Many activities we do include encouraging students to make a guess, and create a word, then decide if it's a 'real' word.  For example,  when working on word wall words, we might use a key word (e.g., hug or bug), and choose letters to try to find words that rhyme with it.  Some students are hesitant to make guesses, in case they get it 'wrong.'  I realized that when I call the non-words 'wugs' – instead of labeling them as wrong – students are far more likely to take risks and suggest letters to try.  Note that I use a question mark for wugs, instead of an X.  So, have fun deciding if words are 'real' words or wugs!!

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