Thursday, June 23, 2011

Foreign Accent Syndrome

Listen to podcast
What is FAS Foreign Accent Syndrome (110624) by CherriiPOP

A few weeks ago I read an interesting article about an American woman Karen Butler, going to her dentist to get some teeth removed. After she woke up from anaesthesia she spoke with an Irish accent. She has been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder FAS – Foreign accent syndrome.

This condition is very uncommon, with around 100 known cases of FAS. The first diagnosis of FAS was made in Norway, 1914, when a woman was hit in the head by a shrapnel from an air raid in World War II.

The cause of FAS is usually from brain injury caused by stroke or diseases that results in brain tissue damage. It is believed that FAS usually disappears after a while; the time for normal speech to return varies between people.

Karen’s dentist said her Irish accent would vanish after the swelling went down. When the swelling went down, her new accent still remained. She has been speaking with an Irish accent for more than a year and a half now. Doctors think that Karen may have suffered a small stroke while under anaesthesia.

Whilst most people with FAS suffer from stress or depression because of their change in accent, Karen has embraced it. Karen said her new accent has made her more outgoing and a great conversation starter.

It would be a great conversation starter wouldn’t it? If I spoke with a British accent, people would naturally ask am I from England. I would go on to say ‘No I’m not, I just woke up with this accent’. I have a rare condition called Foreign Accent Syndrome’. This would be a very interesting conversation, I assume a lot of people would not know about this rare condition – I think they would be very curious. I should experiment with this idea one day… I need to work on my British accent first.

It makes me think, actors can learn to put on different accents for movie roles. I wonder if people who have FAS can be taught to speak in their old accent? Another interesting fact, there are no cases of children with FAS? Why does it occur in adults only?

I attempted to contact the doctor that diagnosed Karen with FAS, Dr Ted Lowenkopf for some further information about FAS. He is the Director of the Providence Stroke Centre in Portland, USA. You can imagine how busy he is. He hasn’t replied to my yet, if he does reply I will let you all know.

No comments:

Post a Comment