November 11, 2012

Can Non-Human Creatures Talk the Human Language?



Can non-human creatures speak? Are they able to learn human language?

Scientists have long debated these questions.

A zoo elephant in South Korea, can speak Korean out loud, researchers say. The pachyderm is capable of saying “hello,” “good,” “no,” “sit down” and “lie down” — all by using its trunk to do the work of lips in a process scientists don’t fully understand.2

Witnesses in the case of the cussing cockatoo said they often hear the bird saying a variety of obscenities, plus a low-pitch screech that gets louder and louder until the bird begins to cuss repetitively.1


Scientists who investigated an Asian elephant, Koshik, verified that the beast can imitate human speech, pronouncing words in Korean, and those who know the language can readily understand Koshik. He accomplished this in a very unusual way — using his trunk stuck inside his mouth…Elephants cannot use their lips to make sounds like humans do, since their upper lips are fused with their noses to form their trunks. Instead, Koshik somehow controls the sounds coming from him by moving his trunk inside his throat.2

The judge in the case of the cussing cockatoo determined the bird’s owner was found guilty of violating the Warwick, Rhode Island’s, noise ordinance. He said that the focus of the case was not on what the bird said but on the noise it made.1

However, duly note that what the bird said was sufficiently recognizable as swearing.1

Can non-human creatures speak in human language?

Alex, an African Grey parrot, knew his colors and shapes. He spoke more than one-hundred English words, and had his own brand of one-liners he used to establish himself in TV shows, scientific reports, and news articles as perhaps the world’s most famous talking bird.

The work revolutionized the way we think of bird (more…)

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