British Accent Changes to French After Migraine Sufferer Takes a Nap

by Rathi Manohar on Sep 16 2010 10:24 PM

 British Accent Changes to French After Migraine Sufferer Takes a Nap
A British woman with a well-clipped accent woke up from a nap to speak like a French woman.
Kay Russell, 49, of Bishops Cleeve, near Cheltenham, Gloucs, has suffered migraines for years and on January 4 a particularly intense attack left her bed-bound in agony.

She woke to find her voice pattern slurred and when it eventually cleared she had a French accent.

Russell, a mum-of-two, has been diagnosed with the extremely rare Foreign Accent Syndrome, a one-in-250 million condition with just 60-recorded cases in the world.

An MRI scan discovered that the migraine had inflicted a mild form of damage to the part of her brain that controls speech and the way words are formed.

Russell, who has only ever been to France twice and hasn't spoken the language since her O Levels, says it has shattered her confidence so much she quit her job as a sales executive for Premiere Products in Cheltenham.

"You lose your identity and an awful lot about yourself. I feel like I come across as a different person," the Sun quoted her as saying.

"It's not just my voice I miss. I would love to have my old voice back obviously. But it goes way, way, beyond that. It's the person I was - the person I want to be.

"My facial muscle movements are different, the inclination is different and the pronunciation.

"It also affects my hands and makes me write with a foreign accent. For example, I say peoples not people and that is how I would write it," she stated.

Professor Nick Miller of Newcastle University is an expert on the condition and said there is no known cure for it.

"A lot of people with Foreign Accent Syndrome speak of a loss of their former accent or speak in terms of bereavement as though they have lost a bit of the their former selves," he added.