Animal communication can't be compared to human speech, but Koshik was trying to make contact with his captors


Steve Connor
Thursday 01 November 2012 17:28 GMT

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but there is little doubt that Koshik’s mimicry of human sounds is nothing but an attempt to emulate the noises of the people who were closest to him for the five years he lived without the company of other elephants.

Animal communication cannot be compared to the complexities of human speech, with its extensive vocabulary and rules of grammar and syntax.

The five Korean words that Koshik can articulate with the tip of his trunk amount to little more than parrot-like repetition with no understanding of what is meant.

And yet, there is something endearing about a mammal of this size wanting to alter the pitch of his vocals so that he can be heard by the humans around him.

The usual frequencies of the low-frequency sounds made by elephants are often beyond the range of the human ear.

Koshik was indeed trying to make contact with his captors.

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