We know that animals talk to EACH OTHER, but lately, they've started talking to US (and they're speaking our language as well!)
Elephants can communicate with each other, using sounds too high-pitched for us to hear, and if they want to "talk" to us, they can communicate telepathically. Now an Asian elephant named Koshik communicate to people more directly, by imitating human speech by vocalizing with his trunk.
But before we rush over there, we should know that he only speaks Korean, and that his vocabulary consists of five words.
The words he speaks, by putting his trunk into his mouth (like a kind of "microphone") include "annyong" ("hello"), "anja" ("sit down"), "aniya" ("no"), "nuo" ("lie down"), and "choah" ("good").
But does he KNOW what he's saying, or is he just imitating?
Speech researcher Angela Stoeger says, "We found a high agreement concerning the overall meaning, and even the Korean spelling of Koshik's imitations." But as far as scientists can tell, Koshik doesn't actually mean what he says.
In National Geographic News, Helen Scales writes about a beluga whale named "NOC," that learned how to mimic the human voice. NOC lived for 30 years at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego, California, until his death in 1999. Researchers first noticed something strange was going on in 1984, when they heard people talking around his enclosure when no one was nearby.
Scales quotes mammal researcher Sam Ridgway as saying, "You could hear there was a conversation, but you couldn't make out what they were saying." Then a human diver thought someone had told him to get out of the whale's tank, and it turned out to be NOC, repeating a sound like the word "out." Ridgway discovered that the beluga whale made these unusual sounds by inflating air sacs to a much higher pressure than during normal vocalizations.
Scales quotes marine biologist Peter Tyack as saying, "You could even hear that (NOC) had a Maine accent."
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