The way it worked, was that trainers would say a set of human words to Wikie, such as “Hello,” “Bye Bye,” “One, Two,” and “Amy.” Then they’d say “Do this,” and see if she’d repeat. The reasoning was that if they used human words and sounds that aren’t in the whale’s normal repertoire, it would demonstrate their ability to learn and reproduce it.
What they discovered was that Wikie was able to make recognizable copies of all the familiar human sounds tested and incredibly quickly too. In fact, she was able to repeat the majority of words within the first 10 tries, and three of them were in the first attempt.
In order to see if the original and Wikie’s versions really matched, they asked human judges to decide and ran a computer algorithm to compare the two, and both tests confirmed that the sounds were bang on.