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back to article Elephant which speaks: Rare. One which speaks Korean: Even Rarer

A captive Asian elephant called Koshik can do more with his trunk than just spray water at zoo visitors - he can use it to speak KOREAN. Boffins studied claims that Koshik's vocabulary extends to five words in the native tongue of his adoptive home and found they were true. The words, translated to English, are "hello", "sit …

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Anonymous Coward

But

Can it dance gangnam style?

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Anonymous Coward

However she doesn't think the cunning linguist can understand what he's saying,

Cunning Linguist. I see what you did there.

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IT Angle

Is it Hadoop?

First thing I thought of.

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"As the last remaining member of the order Proboscidea"

Do you mean - As the last remaining family of the order Proboscidea... ?

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Ah - I see - I read it wrong - ignore me...

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Headmaster

Yes and No

The relevant text is:

As the last remaining member of the order Proboscidea ... elephantidae can use their sizeable larynx ...

This illustrates an interesting grammatical dilemma: Elephantidae, when used to refer to the family, is a singular collective noun (as is family) -- hence it can agree with the singular term "member". However, if interpreted in the singular, it cannot agree with the plural pronoun "their".

On the other hand, elephantidae is a collective noun (and also a Latin plural) so it can be interpreted as a plural, agreeing with "their" but now disagreeing with "member".

So regardless of your choice of interpretation, elephantidae disagrees with something in number in this text. It is effectively disagreeing with itself.

The simplest solution would be to make "member" plural, agreeing with the second interpretation.

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Re: Yes and No

In that case, I'd suggest:

"As the last remaining members of the order Proboscidea ... the elephantidae can use their sizeable larynx ..."

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Anonymous Coward

"However she doesn't think the cunning linguist can understand what he's saying..."

And why not? Dollars to donuts the elephant knows exactly what he's saying. Elephants are *smart*. These are creatures which, in the wild, have noted that humans show up and cut down their forests, and respond by hauling logs to access roads and blocking them. Starting from zero, that level of reasoning requires a pretty good head on one's shoulders - easily good enough to handle language.

Maybe there's a good reason why this particular elephant is good at vocalizing but lousy at comprehending, but somehow I doubt it.

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