Meet Asian elephant that can speak Korean

Talking tusker

Meet Asian elephant that can speak Korean

An Asian elephant can imitate human speech in pitch and tone, however, if you want to chat, you’ll have to learn Korean!

Koshik’s vocabulary consists of exactly five Korean words: “Annyong” (hello), “anja” (sit down), “aniya” (no), “nuo” (lie down), and “choah” (good).

He accomplishes this in a most unusual way - vocalising with his trunk in his mouth.Koshik’s language skills may provide important insights into the biology and evolution of complex vocal learning, which is critical for human speech and music, researchers said.

“Human speech basically has two important aspects, pitch and timbre,” says Angela Stoeger of the University of Vienna.

“Intriguingly, the elephant Koshik is capable of matching both pitch and timbre patterns: he accurately imitates human formants as well as the voice pitch of his trainers.

“This is remarkable considering the huge size, the long vocal tract, and other anatomical differences between an elephant and a human,” said Stoeger in a statement.

Stoeger said, elephants have a trunk instead of lips, while their large larynx can produce very low-pitched sounds, Koshik’s speech mimicry exactly copies the pitch and other characteristics of his human trainers’ voices.

A structural analysis of Koshik’s speech showed not just clear similarities to human voices, but also clear differences from the usual calls of elephants. There have been some earlier reports of vocal mimicry in both African and Asian elephants.

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