(Image source: BBC)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN


Learning a new language must be easy when you never forget. An elephant at a theme park in South Korea has learned an impressive new trick: human speech.

“This Asian elephant named Koshik has learned to imitate his keepers and say several words in Korean including ‘hello,’ ‘sit down’ and ‘good.’” (Video via BBC)

The researchers spent two years studying Koshik, but still aren’t sure how the massive elephant makes human words — especially since he doesn’t have lips.

Somehow, he’s modulating his vocal tract by sticking his trunk in his throat. And his trainers say his pronunciation has improved over the years. (Video via ABC news)

Listen closely as he says “choah,” the Korean word for “good” or “like.” (Via LiveScience)

So why did Koshik start speaking? Scientists say it could have been out of loneliness.

He was the only elephant at the park for much of his youth, and may have been trying to bond with his trainers. A scientist tells CBS that makes him unique. (Video via KBS News)

“As far as we know, Koshik is the only living elephant capable of this, but there are other elephants who have imitated other sounds, like sounds of trucks or sounds of other elephants.”

It’s still not clear whether he understands what he’s doing when he speaks. Discovery News quotes another researcher saying Koshik walks a fine line between comprehension and mimicry.

“...we have every reason to believe he understands the meaning of these words … It's just that when he utters them, he doesn't seem to intend them as commands -- or at least when he says ‘lie down,’ he doesn't seem to get upset if you don't lie down!”

Koshik’s trainers say he doesn’t speak Korean as much as he used to. He’s busy making elephant sounds at his female companion.

Koshik the Elephant Can Speak Some Korean

by Steven Sparkman
1
Transcript
Nov 1, 2012

Koshik the Elephant Can Speak Some Korean

 

(Image source: BBC)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN


Learning a new language must be easy when you never forget. An elephant at a theme park in South Korea has learned an impressive new trick: human speech.

“This Asian elephant named Koshik has learned to imitate his keepers and say several words in Korean including ‘hello,’ ‘sit down’ and ‘good.’” (Video via BBC)

The researchers spent two years studying Koshik, but still aren’t sure how the massive elephant makes human words — especially since he doesn’t have lips.

Somehow, he’s modulating his vocal tract by sticking his trunk in his throat. And his trainers say his pronunciation has improved over the years. (Video via ABC news)

Listen closely as he says “choah,” the Korean word for “good” or “like.” (Via LiveScience)

So why did Koshik start speaking? Scientists say it could have been out of loneliness.

He was the only elephant at the park for much of his youth, and may have been trying to bond with his trainers. A scientist tells CBS that makes him unique. (Video via KBS News)

“As far as we know, Koshik is the only living elephant capable of this, but there are other elephants who have imitated other sounds, like sounds of trucks or sounds of other elephants.”

It’s still not clear whether he understands what he’s doing when he speaks. Discovery News quotes another researcher saying Koshik walks a fine line between comprehension and mimicry.

“...we have every reason to believe he understands the meaning of these words … It's just that when he utters them, he doesn't seem to intend them as commands -- or at least when he says ‘lie down,’ he doesn't seem to get upset if you don't lie down!”

Koshik’s trainers say he doesn’t speak Korean as much as he used to. He’s busy making elephant sounds at his female companion.

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