Psychology

Mind-Altering Facts About Foreign Accent Syndrome  

Patrick Thornton
7.8k views 11 items

You know that friend who comes back from studying abroad with a totally fake accent? What if they weren't actually faking their new brogue or twang? No, they may not have learned it - but they might be suffering from something known as foreign accent syndrome (FAS).

What is foreign accent syndrome? It is an unusual condition where a person begins speaking with a foreign accent for no apparent reason. Sufferers of foreign accent syndrome usually haven't visited the country or region their accent comes from, and they can't stop it. FAS research has revealed some of the reasons behind the peculiar condition, but there are still a lot of questions surrounding the ailment. Below are some bizarre facts and stories surrounding the science of FAS. 

Brain Damage Is The Most Common Cause
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Just about any article on FAS lists brain damage as the primary culprit behind the condition. The disorder most often develops after a stroke, and the person is unable to speak using their normal voice. Researchers have also cited blunt force head trauma as a catalyst.

Even individuals with multiple sclerosis have developed the syndrome as their illness progresses. The bottom line is that while there aren't many cases to go on, a common thread is trauma to the central nervous system.

It Can Start With A Headache
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Everyone gets headaches from time to time, and sometimes the best remedy is a nap so you can wake up fresh and renewed. People with FAS wake up with something a little extra. In 2016, an Arizona woman was suffering from a severe headache and decided to sleep it off.

She woke up and began speaking with what sounded like a British or Australian accent. She shifted between the two accents for about two weeks and then the Australian accent disappeared; she hasn't been able to shake the British accent at all.

It Can Develop After Surgery
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Developing a foreign accent isn't something the average person worries about when going into surgery. For one Texas woman, that's exactly what happened. In March 2016, Lisa Alamia underwent jaw surgery only to wake up with a British accent.

She was told the accent was a result of the surgery itself, and would go away just like any other post-surgery symptoms. While speech therapy helped Alamia, it's still unknown as to when or if her normal voice will return.

The Disorder Made One Woman An Outcast

If you research FAS, the unsettling story of a Norwegian woman named Astrid is bound to come up. In the midst of WWII, Astrid suffered head trauma during a raid on her town. The shrapnel lodged in her brain caused her to speak with a German accent.

Her community became convinced that they had a German spy in their midst, and Astrid was often refused service in stores simply because of how she spoke.