Yahoo! published an interesting news article about an elephant at Everland Theme Park in Yongin, Korea that speaks some Korean. Apparently elephants have the ability to mimick sounds, including noises and rudimentary speech. In this elephant’s case, he spent so much time with his caretaker over the years that he learned how to mimick several short Korean words, including "yes," "no," "sit," and "lie down." Elephants actually communicate through sound and body language. It’s unclear whether this elephant understands the meaning of the words he’s speaking, but one could argue that he expresses them as a form of communication.
What I actually wondered tonight was whether the elephant could learn multiple languages and become bi- or trilingual. He already speaks elephantish (referred to as "a-rroo!" in native elephantish), and now he can imitate some Korean words. If this elephant was shipped from Everland to the San Diego Zoo and stayed there for several years, could he imitate a few English words too? The possibilities boggle the mind. As it is, one could make the case that he is the world’s first bilingual elephant. Given the Korean’s insatiable thirst to learn English as a second language, it’s surprising that the elephant did not gravitate towards learning English instead!