If a South Korean elephant came up to me today and said “sit” in human tongue, I would indeed be shocked into sitting flat on the ground. Travel to Everland Zoo, South Korea, and you might meet a charming young male elephant by the name of Koshik. South Korean citizens were able to comprehend the imitations of human speech Koshik attempted by putting his trunk in his mouth, in the Korean language of course. It has been shown that African elephants can mimic trucks or other nearby Asian elephants, but this new discovery elevates them to a whole new level. At present, researchers hypothesize Koshik is doing so only for social purposes and not for any means of true communication with humans. For a long time, Koshik was the only elephant in the zoo and came to regard humans as his only source of social contact. For instance, if Koshik were to say to me “sit”, he is not really issuing a command (it would probably be more efficient to knock me down with his trunk) and would be rather surprised if I actually sat down. Although it is unclear whether Koshik’s language capacity is limited to single words, I know I am not the only one hoping for the day to arrive when an elephant might walk up to me and introduce himself as: “Hi, my name is Koshik.”

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Courtesy of http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/06/science/surrounded-by-humans-korean-elephant-learns-to-speak.html?ref=science