There are some news stories which sound like hoaxes but then you find out that they’re true.
When I first heard about the Foreign Accent Syndrome , it sounded like a joke . As a matter of fact , it is a rare medical condition, the side effect of severe brain injury resulting from trauma or stroke. People suffering from this syndrome suddenly find themselves talking in a foreign accent. An exceedingly rare phenomenon, less than 60 cases of the syndrome have been reported worldwide.
It was first identified during the closing days of World War II ; a Norwegian woman who was hit on the head by shrapnel woke up from her coma speaking with a German accent. As can easily be imagined , she was ostracized by her neighbors.
A typical case is that of Bronwyn Fox (59), a New Zealand woman from Invercargill on the South Island, who has suffered from multiple sclerosis for the past 25 years. Two years ago she suddenly found herself speaking in an accent which she later identified as Welsh. This was very strange since , inspite of her Welsh first name, she has never been to Wales. Hospital tests showed that she had developed two lesions in her brain probably triggering the change in her accent. Her family has adjusted to her new accent and her husband even said it makes a boring day interesting.However, the Welsh accent also has it’s drawbacks.When Bronwyn Fox calls friends who haven’t heard from her in awhile, they cant believe it’s really her and they hang up the phone. Bronwyn says ” My family have grown used to it but the worst thing is friends I haven’t seen in a long time. If they ring me up, they don’t believe it’s me on the phone. Even my best friend from Christchurch hung up on me.”
Several of these FAS cases have been reported in England. In 2006, a woman from Coventry was recovering from a stroke when she began speaking with a Jamaican accent.In 2007, Chris Gregory ( 30) was recovering from surgery to correct the life threatening rupture of a blood vessel in his brain . While still in his hospital bed at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, he burst into a rousing version of the popular Irish ballad ” Danny Boy” and began speaking in an Irish brogue much to the consternation of the nurses and his family. His wife said ” His Yorkshire accent disappeared completely and he was talking like an Irishman all the time. ” Gregory has since recovered his previous speech patterns and teases his wife that she should have recorded him singing ‘Danny Boy ‘ ! Then there’s Sarah Colville (35) of Devon , England who suffers from migraines. Early this year, she suddenly found herself speaking with a Chinese accent after a particularly severe headache. It must have made for some interesting situations !
There is even a case of FAS in America .Three years ago, Robin Vanderlip , a single mother of two, was attending a 4-H conference in Chevy Chase MD. when she fell backwards down a flight of stairs and wound up in hospital. She was unable to speak for awhile , but when she regained her speech she found she had acquired a Russian accent. She is now suing the conference organizers for a million dollars claiming that she is mortified to go out in public now and it’s their fault because a “dysfunctional handrail” was partly responsible for her fall.
I guess a million dollars should make things all right again.