o The Frog Blog: Foreign Accent Syndrome

Friday, 4 March 2011

Foreign Accent Syndrome

Foreign accent syndrome is a rare speech disorder which comes about usually after a severe brain injury, such as a stroke or head trauma. It manifests itself in a change of accent, where a person begins to speak their own language as if they were from another country, such as cases of Sarah Colwill, an English lady, who suddenly began speaking in a Chinese accent. At only 35 years old she suffered a few serious migraines which resulted in her starting to speak in a Chinese accent. This was frustrating to her as she had never even visited the country. She says that she found it amusing to begin with but it slowly started to annoy her as it wasn’t her own voice.

Doctors believe that it has to do with the part of the brain that deals with language pitch and speech patterns being damaged during the trauma. There are thought to be only 60 cases of foreign accent syndrome world-wide, since it was first identified in the 1940’s. This can be permanent or sometimes only last a few hours after the trauma and in some cases people try to relearn how they used to speak in their old accent. Below is a GMTV interview with Sarah Colwill - fascinating stuff.

This post was contributed by Junior Frog Blog Reporter Alex Traill.

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