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The Wug Test is named for a mythical creature called a wug. It was designed as part of an experiment investigating young children's knowledge about English morphology. The method employed by the test is structured elicitation, using a picture-book format to lead children to produce plurals, verb tenses, and other inflected and derived forms of words that they have never heard before.
This study was significant in two major ways. First, it demonstrated that children learning language are not simply imitating the adults around them: They have systematic and productive knowledge of the morphological patterns of their language that they can apply to unfamiliar words. Second, it introduced structured elicitation, a new method that other researchers soon began to use.
The test and its methods have been ...