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Foreign accent syndrome

Foreign accent syndrome is a rare medical condition that usually occurs as a rare side effect of severe brain injury, such as a stroke or a head injury. Between 1941 and 2006 there have been fifty recorded cases. [1]



Those with the syndrome speak their native languages with foreign accents; for example, an American native speaker of English might speak with an Urdu accent. However, researchers at Oxford University have found that certain, specific parts of the brain were injured in some foreign-accent syndrome cases, indicating that certain parts of the brain control various linguistic functions, and damage could result in altered pitch or mispronounced syllables, causing the speech to have a different accent. The change in speech is not the result of sufferers' adopting or imitating any accent; this is merely the perception of people who hear the sufferer speak.


One of the first recorded incidence of FAS was in a Czech studied in 1919.[2] However there has been an earlier reported case in 1907.

A well-known case of foreign accent syndrome occurred in Norway in 1941 after a young woman, Astrid L., suffered a head injury from shrapnel during an air-raid. After apparently recovering from the injury she was left with what sounded like a strong German accent and was shunned by her fellow Norwegians.[3]

Another well known case is that of Judi Roberts, also known as Tiffany Noel, who was born and raised in Indiana, USA. In 1999, at the age of 57, she had a stroke. After recovering her voice, she spoke with a British accent, a mixture of English cockney and West Country, despite never being to Britain. [4][5] Apart from a British accent, she has begun using British vocabulary, such as "bloody", and "loo". Professor Ryalls attributes this to vocal tract posture, as British English has tenser vowels. [6]

Another case of foreign accent syndrome occurred to Linda Walker, a 60 year old woman from the Newcastle area. After a stroke, her normal Geordie accent was transformed and has been variously described as resembling a Jamaican, as well as a French Canadian, Italian and a Slovak accent. Bunyan, Nigel. "Geordie wakes after stroke with new accent", Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group Limited, 2006-7-4. Retrieved on 2007-12-30.  She was interviewed by BBC News 24[7] and appeared on the Richard and Judy show in the UK in July 2006 to speak of her ordeal.


  1. ^ Doughty, Sophie; Hope, Craig. "Geordie to an East European", The Evening Chronicle, NCJ media limited, 2006-7-3. Retrieved on 2007-12-30. 
  2. ^ Pick, A. 1919. Über Änderungen des Sprachcharakters als Begleiterscheinung aphasicher Störungen. Zeitschrift für gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, 45, 230–241.
  3. ^ Monrad-Krohn, G. H. "Dysprosody or Altered 'Melody of Language'." Brain 70 (1947): 405-15.
  4. ^ "Stroke gives woman British accent", BBC News, BBC, 2003-11-25. Retrieved on 2007-12-29. 
  5. ^ Lewis, Angie; Guin, Karen. "Communicative Disorders Clinic Diagnoses Rare Foreign Accent Syndrome in Sarasota Woman", University of Central Florida-College of Health and Public Affairs. Retrieved on 2007-12-29. 
  6. ^ Warren, Marcus. "Cor Limey, American loses accent after stroke", The Telegraph, 2003-11-27. Retrieved on 2007-12-29. 
  7. ^ "Stroke gives woman foreign accent", BBC News, BBC, 2006-7-4. Retrieved on 2007-12-30. 
  • Dankovičová J, Gurd JM, Marshall JC, MacMahon MKC, Stuart-Smith J, Coleman JS, Slater A. Aspects of non-native pronunciation in a case of altered accent following stroke (foreign accent syndrome). Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics 2001;15:195-218.
  • Gurd JM, Bessell NJ, Bladon RA, Bamford JM. A case of foreign accent syndrome, with follow-up clinical, neuropsychological and phonetic descriptions. Neuropsychologia 1988;26:237-51. PMID 3399041
  • Gurd JM, Coleman JS, Costello A, Marshall JC. Organic or functional? A new case of foreign accent syndrome. Cortex 2001;37:715-8. PMID 11804223 PSHAW

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Foreign_accent_syndrome". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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