Thursday, November 8, 2012

Elephant Can Speak Korean, Why Can't Foreigners?

An Asian elephant at a zoo in South Korea has learned to speak Korean, raising questions about why foreigners who also have big noses struggle so much with the world’s most scientific language.

The elephant – who is called Koshik – is capable of saying "hello", "good", "no", "sit down", "lie down", "how much?", "kimchi", "bibimbap" and "Dokdo" by using his trunk to do the work of his lips, a skill foreigners have yet to master.

After studying the phenomenon, 58-year-old Professor Kim of Seoul International University has discovered – in original research not previously published in non-Korean journals and not done by his research assistants – that elephants have bigger brains than foreigners. This may also explain why these comparatively small-brained foreigners appear to struggle to understand Korean, as well as why Korea's unique culture means they are wrong in any given discussion. Previously, the suspicion had fallen on their impure blood.

Scientists have speculated that Koshik achieved his ability in the Korean language after he was deliberately isolated from other elephants at the age of 5 following his refusal to point to Dokdo with his trunk on a map of the East Sea to entertain visitors at the Everland Zoo. The isolation lasted from 1995 to 2002. Attempts have been made to isolate foreign English teachers at remote schools in Korea, but they usually mysteriously disappear long before the seven-year period Koshik was kept separated from his species.

As far as the scientists can tell, Koshik does not actually understand exactly what he says, indicating a mastery of the Korean language usually reserved for the over-50s.

Related Links
Koshik The Elephant Can 'Speak' Korean Out Loud, Scientists Say
Elephant mimics Korean with help of his trunk

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