An Elephant That Speaks Korean? . . . . . . Hmmmm!
Elephants have been known to do many things - Paint, calculate math problems, wash cars and in some cases even whistle and imitate sounds. But actually speak a language? That, is a first and until now thought to be impossible given that the mighty mammals cannot use their lips to make sounds like humans, because their upper lips and noses are fused together to form their trunks. However, one elephant in South Korea seems to be defying all logic and odds!
Koshik, a pachyderm that lives at the Everland Zoo in South Korea seems to have learnt the Korean language. While his vocabulary is limited to five words - "annyong" ("hello"), "choah" ("good"), "aniya" ("no"), "anja" ("sit down") and "nuo" ("lie down"), it is still causing a stir among experts. And what's amazing them even more so is how he is able to say the words - By somehow moving his trunk inside his throat.
Scientists believe that the Koshik's adoption of the Korean language can be explained by the fact that when he was brought to the zoo at the age of 5 in 1995, he was the only elephant there - A situation that did not change for seven years until he was 12 years old. They think that his desire to socialize was so strong that the smart elephant somehow figured out how to speak the language of the only companions he had - Humans! While the trainers first noticed him imitating the words in 2004, it is only recently that the words were actually analyzed by experts and confirmed as the Korean language. That explanation seems logical especially given that lately Koshik has not been talking in his human language as much, because he now has a female elephant companion to communicate with.
The scientists also believe that Koshik is merely imitating the words as a way to be social and that while he may understand their meaning, he is not expecting the person he is talking with to obey him (like when says rollover!). But that does not make Koshik's language skills any less amazing - Just shows where there is a will, there is a way! Now if only the smart elephant could belt out the words to Gangnam Style!
Resources: news.yahoo.com, livescience.com