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Debra Aronson
Wug Test
The Wug test was very interesting and quite fun to experiment
with various subjects. I first took the test myself, and
subsequently, gave the test to my husband, my son who is
twelve years old, my daughter's friend who is sixteen and a
boy across the street who is eight.
I noticed that when I took the test, it seemed quite simple to
me to change the words, making them plural or past tense,
adding "s" "es" or "ed" (without thinking too much). However,
when I came to the question (image) about the dog with the
"quirks", I really had to think of what type of dog it was. Did I
want to answer that it was a "quirk dog"? Would you say a dog
with spots is called a spot dog? The answer is no. Then I
thought...maybe I should just call it a dog, concluding that I am
over thinking the scenario.
My husband, who thinks about everything very deeply and
intricately, called the house the wug lives in a "wug hut" and
the dog with the quirks is a "quirky dog". He sat and thought
deeply about each answer and each image versus when the
children took the test, they quickly answered, usually followed
by a giggle.
My daughters friend, Lindsay took the test and while she was
doing so, I watched her facial expressions intently. She was
thinking very carefully about each answer and looked at me as
if there was a trick question. Lindsay wondered if she was
getting the answer correct. I noticed a remarkable difference
between the way a sixteen year old took the test compared to
the younger children. Why is it that older children and adults
think intently about their answer and children react quickly.
Children's brains are fresh, quick and ready to learn.
My son, who is twelve, reacted quickly and very simply. He
pluralized the words (creatures) if there were two adding "s"
and "es". At times, he looked at me with a puzzling face since
the words were foreign to him and he didn't quite know at first

what to do. My son, Josh, gave logical answers and then

continued to ask me if he was right.
The youngest boy, eight, who took the test very easily
answered the questions without much thinking involved. It was
very natural to him to pluralize the words (images). For the
dog image, he answered, a "quirk dog" and for the wug living
in what type of house, he answered, "a wug house". I noticed
that the younger boy didn't think as much as the older children
and adults. Grammar changes came very naturally to him,
even though he didn't know the words.
In conclusion, perhaps we indeed learn language and hear
"innate" grammar when we are in the womb. Perhaps we are
all born with a blank slate, as stated by Steven Pinker.
According to Patricia Kuhl, babies learn sounds for language
before one year old, and are geniuses before the age of seven.
The prime age for learning language is under the age of
seven. By the time we get to age eight and up, the "language
scores" or our ability to learn language declines. So why is it
that many schools around the country do not offer foreign
language until the students are in middle school? Why are we
teaching foreign language well past the 'prime' age for

Helen Orton Carlson

RE: Wug Test


Nice discussion here, Debra! Remember Pinker's views

are Darwinian, What does he think about genetics?
Dr. Carlson
Debra Aronson
RE: Wug Test

Steven Pinker's believes that we are 'shaped by our

genes' and that "human behavioral traits are heritable."
Pinker believes that identical twins have the same traits,

fraternal twins, although less, have strongly correlated traits

and siblings as well. With the same environment, parents,
schooling, activities and more, Pinker believes that genes are
what drives the similarities or differences among siblings. He
is a believer in 'nature' as compared to 'nurture'.

Jesse Smith
RE: Wug Test
"In conclusion, perhaps we indeed learn language and hear
"innate" grammar when we are in the womb."
I'm envious! So many test subjects. I just had myself and my
husband to test it out on. I found it easy, although some made
me stop and think. My husband looked at me like I was insane,

but he responded correctly.

In response to your comment above, when viewing Dr.
Carlson's PowerPoint, it stated just that. Exposure
to language starts in the womb. The fetus can 'hear' at sixteen
weeks and picks up the, 'rhythm and cadence' of a language
from its mother. I wondered then, how much of their brains
were being developed and prepared for language while still in
the womb. Fascinating!

Jazmyn Murphy
RE: Wug Test

Thanks for your comments!
It looks like you had a lot of data for the WUG test! I wish I
was able to test it out on others. It is really interesting to see
the results you acquired from the different ages of people who
took this test. I too felt this test went quite smoothly, but at
first realized I was over thinking the questions. There seems to
be a pattern in the test takers. The younger ones finished the
quiz quickly and answered all the questions without really
thinking. The older the participants were, the more time they

took on the test (including a few who really thought about the
questions). How interesting!
To respond to your quote: "So why is it that many schools
around the country do not offer foreign language until the
students are in middle school? Why are we teaching foreign
language well past the 'prime' age for learning?" I agree that
we should start offering more foreign languages classes to
younger children. However, in the past few years I have seen
an increase in dual immersion language programs, or
immersion programs with a specific language. I have seen
these program start as early as kindergarten, and go all the way
up to middle school. I have seen them to be most popular
at the elementary level. These children are taught a foreign
language by being immersed in that language. I know here in
Utah, there are quite a few elementary schools who
have Chinese immersion programs, and French
immersion programs, and Spanish immersion programs. I
am always amazed as I see these programs. Elementary
aged children who are fluent in two languages. However,
after the lessons we have had this week, it now makes a little
more sense as to why children can acquire language so
I really enjoyed reading your post!
Erich Tucker
RE: Wug Test

I tested the WUG test on my 7 year old son and his answers
were similar to the 8 year old you tested. I think that is some
amazing stuff. Two children similar in age, thousands of miles
apart whom never met would have almost the same answers. I
would really like to test this on my five year old but he is just
not interested in this stuff.
I am amazed that our American educational system starts
foreign language teachings so late in a child's life. Why then is
this the case when research shows that children are geniuses

before the age of 7? I can think back to a boy I know who lived
down the street from me growing up. This boy could speak 3
languages before he was even in 2nd grade. He spoke Korean
in his home, learned English in school and had one
grandparent that lived with him and spoke Mandarin. I started
using sign language with him when I was first learning about
the age of 6 and he picked it up very fast. I went to a different
middle school than he did but then met again in high school.
He was fluent in all 4 languages including sign language
even though he hadn't used it since elementary
school. Maybe he's just a genius but I like to think that
Patricia Kuhl's research is spot on.