Talking elephant Koshik speaks Korean language, scientists reveal (Video)

By on Nov 2, 2012 in Animals, Asia, Weird Comments

Koshik, a 22-year old male elephant from Everland Zoo, in Yongin, South Korea, is now being dubbed as the talking elephant and speaks Korean language. Scientists revealed that the Korean elephant can imitate human speech by inserting this trunk into his mouth, as shown in the video below.

Talking elephant Koshik

Talking elephant Koshik
Image Credit: EPA/Current Biology

As noted at Current Biology journal ( on Thursday, November 1, 2012, Angela Stoeger and Daniel Mietchen of the University of Vienna were among the researchers, who have studied the unique ability of Koshik to speak like humans, noting that vocal imitation has convergently evolved in various species.

According to the abstract of the study, the elephant speaks Korean and can modulate the shape of the vocal tract during controlled phonation when it places its trunk inside its mouth, which represents a wholly novel method of vocal production and formant control in this or any other species.

“Human speech has two important aspects, pitch, and timbre. Intriguingly, Koshik is capable of matching both. This is remarkable considering the anatomical differences between an elephant and a human.” Angela Stoeger was quoted at Daily Mail, who was assisted by her colleagues in recording of the elephant, as it speaks Korean.

“We found a high agreement concerning the overall meaning, and even the Korean spelling of Koshik‘s imitations.” Stoeger added. Koshik is being believed to have start learning to repeat human speech when he was kept alone for five years as a young mammal.

On the documented video of the talking elephant, Koshik can be heard him saying ‘choah,’ (a Korean word which means ‘good’), repeating what his trainer says. Nevertheless, the Korean elephant was reportedly also capable of saying four other Korean words: ‘annyong’ (hello), ‘anja’ (sit down), ‘aniya’ (no), and ‘nuo’ (lie down).

Koshik, the talking elephant, speaks Korean language
Video Credit: cellpressvideo/YouTube/Stoeger et al/Current Biology

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