Foreign Accent Syndrome


| 4 Comments

Imagine waking up one day with a British accent, or a German accent, even though you've lived in Pennsylvania your entire life. Believe it or not, it's possible. There's a disorder called Foreign Accent Syndrome, where a patient who's suffered brain trauma can come out of it with a completely different voice.

Uhm, excuse me? How does that work? It turns out that the syndrome is linked to damage to the left hemisphere of the brain, the side associated with language. This damage is usually the result of strokes or severe head trauma. Anterior lesions can cause a disruption in the patient's normal speech pattern, resulting in speech that sounds like it's from a foreign country. It's a physical, and not a mental impairment that is causing this dramatic change in speech patterns. The way that the lips, tongue and mouth move makes the words sound foreign. As of now, doctors have no way of treating this phenomenon, and there have been no cases of the patient regaining their original voice.


4 Comments

This is so crazy! I can't believe this actually happens to some people. This makes me want to ask so many questions. If a victim of this disease went to a speech therapist and basically learned to talk again and retrain her mouth and lips to move as before, would they eventually get their old voice back? Or maybe one without an accent at least? Also, what would happen if a person that already spoke with an accent got this disease? I'm assuming they would end up having a completely different accent in just the same way? This was so interesting, I decided to look up other Youtube videos regarding this disease.

Personally, I think it would be pretty cool to wake up with a completely different accent. However, I don't think I would want to be brain damaged to get a different accent.
Do you happen to know how many people this strikes on a yearly basis? Also, what I'm interested in learning more about is what countries are affected the most by "foreign accent syndrome." Are there countries besides the United States where this has happened?

Okay, so I watched your video, and now I'm scared to go to the chiropractor! I've been trying to set up an appointment since my back is all screwed up... ahhh! Definitely an irrational fear.

ANYWAY... this is really quite interesting. I think I've heard of this condition before, but I'm not sure that I've really seen it in a video or in person. Having her voicemail there is a good way to demonstrate just how severely her accent has been affected.

Here is another case of the syndrome. This particular woman developed it after having some dental work done. The thing that is different about this case is that there was no OBVIOUS brain trauma that occurred-- the article says that she may have suffered a stroke while under anesthesia but that she won't know for sure until she receives a brain scan. This particular individual actually likes her new accent and attributed it to a surge in self-confidence. The article says that she could get her old accent back through speech therapy, however it looks like she's happy to keep her new one.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/06/01/136824428/a-curious-case-of-foreign-accent-syndrome

Here's an abstract on a paper dealing with a woman affected by FAS back in the 1940s that I found about by way of this article (http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/05/news/la-heb-foreign-accent-20110505). She was hit by a bomb fragment and, after the brain trauma, began speaking with a German accent.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17170795

Is there a reason why a person with FAS speaks with a specific accent? Is it connected to something or is it completely random?

This is incredible! I've never heard of this before.

One thing I was wondering, does the person who becomes afflicted with FAS have prior exposure to their new accent? For instance, we all have class with Andrew and his New Zealand accent so we are exposed to it, but could a person who has never heard someone speak with a certain accent, Scottish, for instance, have a Scottish accent after? I know nowadays with all our technology, it's nearly impossible to go too long without hearing many different accents from all around the world.

Another thing I wonder is if they can 'fake' their old American accent for a few minutes the same way many of us can fake a British accent (poorly).

Another blog on FAS

A plus side, it seems, it that there is no physical discomfort, simply a change in how you speak. I wouldn't mind an accent.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Hybrids
Everyone has heard of them as being the best car out there, mainly cause of gas prices. Hybrids are sweeping…
Break-Ups
People everywhere are breaking up, just in time for the holidays. And the more couples I see parting ways, the…
Pregnancy Tests
While browsing Andrew's blog and looking to see all of the posts that I missed (I'm pretty sure I haven't…

Old Contributions