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Elephant speaks Korean

According to the BBC:

An Asian elephant called Koshik has astounded scientists with his Korean language skills.

Researchers report that the mammal has learnt to imitate human speech and can say five words in Korean: hello, no, sit down, lie down and good.

The zoo animal places the tip of his trunk into his mouth to transform his natural low rumble into a convincing impression of a human voice.

Dr. Angela Stoeger, from the University of Vienna, flew here to verify the claims. She told the BBC:

“We asked native Korean speakers, who had never experienced the elephant before, to write down what they understood when we played back recordings from Koshik.

“We found a high agreement of the overall meaning.”

This certainly doesn’t bode well for my pride –considering Koreans often have trouble understanding my pronunciation and yet, an elephant vocalizing with his trunk in his mouth is perfectly recognizable. Oh, the pachydermity!

Granted, he is an Asian elephant, but perhaps Korean Air can sign Koshik up as a spokesanimal for its Seoul to Kenya route.

[HT to reader]

About the author: Founder/CEO of Meme Communications Korea – www.memecommunications.com

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “hello, no, sit down, lie down and good”

    Which suggests the trainers aren’t abusing it because if they were, the elephant would have vocalized a whole different list of words.

  • http://www.chinasmack.com/tag/funny/page/3 Jakgani

    While Koshik was capable of producing these more typical elephant noises, he needed the help of his trunk to morph these into something far more human. The researchers said this was behaviour they had not seen before.

    Crap… it’s been done before by elephants in Russia (speaking Russian)

    I read about it in the news THREE days ago – and wasn’t surprised – as my Aunt had a dog that spoke German and I (myself) have a cat that speaks English.

    If you talk to your pets long enough – they eventually “copy” you.

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ jefferyhodges

    I may be dyslexic, but I know my dog speaks god . . .

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • jkitchstk

    Not only is that elephant ugly but I think it’s mentally deranged. Did you hear the sounds it makes? If that elephant can say hello in Korean then why didn’t I hear 5 syllables? I think the Korean man or zookeeper who first said the elephant can speak Korean was told by his senior that he’s crazy, I suppose the senior has retired and now nobody is there to remind everyone else that that Korean man/zookeeper is still crazy.

  • silver surfer

    That elephant is blowing its own trumpet.

  • Seth Gecko

    He can say five Korean words?

    Sounds like all the other long-noses I know.

  • R. Elgin

    Umm, I could have sworn I heard English in there too. Maybe this is a Christian elephant since he appears to be speaking in tongues.

  • yuna

    He’s got nothing on Cat speaks Korean

    사우디아라비어요.

    ㅋㅋㅋ

  • slim

    We need Gerry Bevers here to correct that elephant.

  • iMe

    A few more pressing questions about Koshik before I decide whether I’m impressed or not:

    1. Can he use chopsticks?
    2. Can he eat spicy food?
    3. Is he from 경상도 or 전라도?

  • yuna

    Oh yeah, and cannot forget the 나갈래 cat.. it’s a Korean child in that cat, she needs cat exorcism.

  • Flyingsword K

    didn’t understand a word he said……like trying to understand one of the drunks on the subway…

  • gbnhj

    I just wonder what his trainer did to get an elephant to moan ‘좋아, 좋아’ like that.

  • Creo69

    I’d wager the elephant is saying, “Dokdo is Korea.” in English by week’s end. Koreans seem to leave no rock un-turned on this issue.

  • dogbertt

    Pfft…I’ll be impressed when a Korean speaks Elephant.

  • JK

    Creo69 wrote @13:
    “I’d wager the elephant is saying, ‘Dokdo is Korea.’ in English by week’s end. Koreans seem to leave no rock un-turned on this issue.”

    The same seems to apply to you, Creo. So far, I’ve seen YOU proactively bring up Dokdo on two different threads where Dokdo hadn’t even been mentioned. Talk about obsession!

  • madar

    WTF, so Koreans can understand the elephant’s pronunciation but often fail to understand me when I speak to them! I’ll hold an hour long conversation with one stranger, then when I speak to the next person I meet, they stare at me blankly. I’ve asked my friends if my pronunciation is really that bad, and they tell me it is not good enough for a radio career but good enough to understand. They believe that the person I am talking too just suspects I will speak English and freezes up, not listening to me at all. On the assumption that this is the case I have named the phenomenon Snow Blindness ™.

  • Creo69

    JK,

    What is your problem? Koreans want “PR” for this issue right? Isn’t that their new goal? I am just helping. They can spend millions on billboard PR campaigns around the world or they can just race over and get this elephant to say, “Dokdo is Korea” and watch it blow up on Youtube like Pms doing the “Horse Dance.”

    I am a believer! DOKDO IS KOREA!!! WEEEEEEE….

  • Q

    Let Bevers and his students at the department of prostitutology and whore studies at Liancourt sh*t rock campus practice their whore expertise extended to elephants!

    http://youtu.be/Nbh-FcyjWws

    At least Prof. Emeritus Bevers could teach his students how to deal with the sp*rms and sh*t of elephants.

  • Q

    The fact that the elephant is an “Asian” would be attractive to them.

  • JK

    To Creo @17:

    You’re getting to be almost as bad as Bevers with his generalizations about “Koreans.” How would you like it if the people of the world made generalizations about Americans acting like Tea Partiers (and there are large number of Tea Partiers as well as plenty of newspaper ads)? Let’s stop making the generalizations, shall we? Almost every Korean I know either does not care or has a blase’ attitude about Dokdo since South Korea already possesses it anyway.

    But YOU love to bring it up out of the blue when the topic is something not even related to Dokdo. YOU’RE the one who’s obsessed here. No one else brought up Dokdo on this and another thread where Dokdo wasn’t even the topic; it was YOU.

    English teachers in Korea have enough of a bad rap as being less-than-intelligent Westerners who couldn’t get a decent job back in their home country who just bitch up and down about Korea. I think it’s an unfortunate generalization, but people like you unfortunately help to perpetuate that negative stereotype with your silly comments.

  • Creo69

    Jk,

    I have a better idea. How about you go fuck yourself and then you go play blog dictator (or Engishee professor) someplace else.

  • Creo69

    And just to make sure I understand…You’re saying I am silly for making comments on a blog that a handful of people read…but you don’t think it is silly for Koreans to waste a few million on a PR campaign to convince the world they own a large rock that according to you they already believe they own. Stay in Korea and keep sucking on the soju bottle with the locals. Your logic fits right in. ㅋㅋㅋ

  • Creo69

    And “generalizations?” Yeh, it is completely unfair to generalize about a society that is obsessive compulsive about their pride in being collective thinkers and doers. Oh, right, you’re going to tell me Koreans are doing their own “thing” these days and a person is as likely to find asparagus with hollandaise sauce as kimchi being served as a side dish. Yeh, right Snookie.

  • Q

    If not satisfied with elephants, department chair bevers and his Liancourt sh*t students, please do not get disappointed. Here comes another formidable animal!

    http://youtu.be/PSKQ3ZNQ_O8

    I hear the he spoke English (from the other side of orifice) “far~~~~~~~t,” which I guess its etymology might have onomatopoeic origin.

  • Q

    you don’t think it is silly for Koreans to waste a few million on a PR campaign

    For its fairness, the those Koreans are civilians, whereas Takeshima PR campaigns of Japan have been organized by Nippon government.

  • JK

    Dear Creo,

    My my, unprovoked profanity. What a way to prove your point.

    The topic was an elephant that supposedly could communicate in Korean. You brought up Dokdo JUST LIKE you did in another thread where the topic of a thread was NOT Dokdo. Why you did this, only you can answer.

    And then later you justify your bringing up Dokdo yet again like a bitter Western English teacher by saying “Koreans” (implying the entire population) talks about Dokdo too much. Is the entire population of Koreans here on this blog? All right, then why keep bringing up the topic of Dokdo on topics that have nothing to do with it?

    And then quit justifying bringing up that old topic by saying “Koreans” do it all the time. Geez…

  • JK

    “And just to make sure I understand…You’re saying I am silly for making comments on a blog that a handful of people read…”

    Yep. I’m saying why do you keep bringing up a topic in a thread that has nothing to do with the topic being discussed and why do you do it to diss “Koreans” (since you are obviously implying that all Koreans think and do alike).

    “but you don’t think it is silly for Koreans to waste a few million on a PR campaign to convince the world they own a large rock that according to you they already believe they own.”

    One has nothing to do with another. It seems you’re getting on me for not criticizing ‘Koreans’ (again, implying the entire population) for harping on Dokdo but for criticizing YOU for constantly bringing up the topic on thsi blog. Well, take your medicine like a man because you I will continue to call you on it. Your bitterness toward Koreans is palpable.

    “Stay in Korea and keep sucking on the soju bottle with the locals. Your logic fits right in. ”

    It’s obviously you who do not see that your argument has no logic. You’re justifying bringing up Dokdo on threads that have nothing to do with Dokdo and making sardonic comments in relation to Koreans about it by saying Koreans (the entire population at that) talk about it more. But so what?!? Is that your excuse for acting like a third-grader, you bitter expat? Geez, at least learn to argue logically.

  • Charles Tilly

    Almost every Korean I know either does not care or has a blase’ attitude about Dokdo since South Korea already possesses it anyway.

    Hmmmm…..Clearly a limited group you must know. You must not watch or read the Korean news often. I think those Koreans would give you a different impression.

    Creo69:

    I have a better idea. How about you go fuck yourself…

    JK:

    My my, unprovoked profanity.

    Unprovoked is beside the point. The point is that it’s a very good suggestion.

  • Q

    At least Creo and gbevers keep bringing up Dokdo here at the MH starting debate with Koreans or Kyopos.

  • Q

    The point is that it’s a very good suggestion.

    For its fairness, the same should be suggested to Creo.

  • CactusMcHarris

    #16,

    He’s not the only one – I’m guilty of that, too, and I thought his comment was slightly hilarious. But since it’s an elephant and smart, should he/she be taught to say ‘Dokdo is our land’, rather than the ungrammatical ‘Dokdo is Korea’? I’m asking you before I write to the Institute….

  • Creo69

    JK,

    Thanks for your valuable and enlightened “everybody loves me” expat opinions. I am sure the next time someone needs advice on what to say or not say on this blog they will come racing to you. Nice to see you are learnig how to be a nazi and a good little Korean who tries diligently control every one and every thing around you. Keep working at it and you will end up sharing in the bliss of what it means to be Korean…wait a minute…aren’t Koreans consistently self ranked as the most unhappy people in the world? Oh well, who pays attention to such minor things anyway.

  • broona

    “Pfft…I’ll be impressed when a Korean speaks Elephant.”

    They do. They say kogiri, which can be roughly translated to, “long-noser.”

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    JK,

    are all English teachers bitter and is it the characteristic of English teachers to bring up Dokdo? I would have thought Koreans bring up Dokdo much more often than English teachers.

  • berto

    my goodness, for an article about a korean speaking elephant, you guys sure enjoy talking about gerry.

  • JK

    Creo,

    No problem. I’ll be sure to continue to offer it to you the next time you bring up Dokdo out of the blue in an attempt the criticize the entire Korean population on a thread that has nothing to do with that topic. And because of how I reply, you categorize me as a “good little Korean who tries diligently control every one and every thing around you” in a further attempt to slam the entire Korean population in this world. Holy geez, you are one bitter English teacher!

    I know this won’t sink in, but I’m gonna clarify my point once more: I understand you’ve got some beef with Koreans and maybe got sh*t on a little. But when there’s a topic about something (talking elephants, Bevers’ lack of knowledge of the Korean language or whatever), don’t just bring up Dokdo out of the blue when it’s not even the topic of a thread in an attempt to put down the entire Korean population and then justify it by saying ‘Koreans’ do worse; I don’t see ‘Koreans’ bringing up Dokdo on this and other non-Dokdo threads, but I see you doing it. Like you have the right to post whatever crap you want, so do I, and I will call you on it. You can count on that.

  • Sr Noob

    How could you all not be impressed by an elephant figuring out how to stick its trunk in its mouth to change its pitch and make human-like sounds? That’s frickin’ incredible. And all the lot of you want to do is bitch about your usual bitching points? It’s like that Louis CK line: “Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.”

  • http://koreanlanguagenotes.blogspot.com/ gbevers

    Five words after ten years of training? That’s better than some of the students in my freshman English classes back in Korea.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Thought this was funny, in relation to the topic:

    http://www.naomistanford.com/links/blogs/teaching-the-horse-to-talk.html

    A lot can happen in five years…

  • Q

    “Good Teachers Make Good Students” – Pedagogy 101.

  • JK

    Exactly, Q, exactly.

  • http://koreanlanguagenotes.blogspot.com/ gbevers

    Q wrote (#41):

    “Good Teachers Make Good Students” – Pedagogy 101.

    I wasn’t teaching good teachers; I was teaching the bad students the teachers taught. Don’t they teach Pedagogy 101 at Korean teacher colleges?

    At the last university I taught in Korea, I had students coming into my freshmen English classes who could not even answer the simple question, “What’s your name?” Among the ones who could answer that question, many could not answer the next question, “What’s my name?”

    Of course, when the students went back into the hallways, they would tell their friends what the questions were and give them the answers. Since I wasn’t born yesterday, the next students would get different questions. So when the next student came in and I asked, “How old are you?” he or she would often answer, “My name is….” For those students I would put by their names the letter “E,” which means “Elephant Level.” If they were PE majors, I would have to dug a hole to find their level.

    After those kinds of interviews, I would have a pretty good idea which text to use and how much to dumb down my class.

  • http://koreanlanguagenotes.blogspot.com/ gbevers

    CORRECTION: “If they were PE majors, I would have to dig a hole to find their level.

  • JK

    Still at it with all the bitterness after all these years (since 1999), huh Gbevers? You were their teacher…but proactively advertise their failings on this public blog (without taking any accountability for it at all)…then you blame Korean teachers for this.

    Why not say just nothing about those students at all….Teacher?