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Foreign Accent Syndrome Causes Woman To Speak With Different Accent

by Julia Samuel on February 14, 2018 at 3:49 PM
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Foreign Accent Syndrome Causes Woman To Speak With Different Accent

Severe migraines can trigger a rare phenomenon that makes you speak in a different accent after you wake from your sleep.

An American woman who suffered from severe migraines fell asleep and woke up with a British accent - and she still suffers from the condition two years on.

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Former beauty queen Michelle Myers, from Buckeye, Arizona now speaks with a London accent - despite having never left the United States.

She was diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome - a condition usually associated with neurological damage.

According to the University of Texas, Foreign Accent Syndrome is "a speech disorder that causes a sudden change to speech so that a native speaker is perceived to speak with a foreign accent and is most often caused by damage to the brain caused by a stroke or traumatic brain injury."
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New Accent Every Now and Then

And this isn't the first time Myers has picked up a new accent. According to Myers, there have been three separate instances where she has gone to sleep with a crippling headache only to find herself speaking with a new accent.

The first time it happened, Myers ended up Irish. And the next, the mum woke up to find herself speaking with an Australian accent. However, this is the first time an accent has lasted more than a week.

Myers said: "They send in the psychiatrist at the hospital and make sure you're not a loon." And although Myer's diagnosis sounds unbelievable, numerous hospital visits and specialists have come to the conclusion that she suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome - which they believe has led to her accented speech.

According to the NHS, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a rare condition that affects connective tissue and results in skin that bruises easily and loose unstable joints.

Despite the diagnosis, Myers just wants her normal voice back. She told ABC Arizona: "I'm sad. I feel like a different person." And Myers is tired of people not taking her seriously.

"Some people think it's physiological; others think it's psychological. People like me - we don't care which one it is. We just want to be taken seriously," she said.

"Some people think it's physiological; others think it's psychological. People like me - we don't care which one it is. We just want to be taken seriously," she said.

Foreign accent syndrome (FAS)

Foreign accent syndrome (FAS) is speech disorder that causes a sudden change to speech so that a native speaker is perceived to speak with a "foreign" accent.

FAS is most often caused by damage to the brain caused by a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Other causes have also been reported including multiple sclerosis and conversion disorder and in some cases no clear cause has been identified.

Speech may be altered in terms of timing, intonation, and tongue placement so that is perceived as sounding foreign. Speech remains highly intelligible and does not necessarily sound disordered.

FAS has been documented in cases around the world, including accent changes from Japanese to Korean, British English to French, American-English to British English, and Spanish to Hungarian.

Some common speech changes associated with FAS include:
  • Fairly predictable errors
  • Unusual prosody, including equal and excess stress (especially in multi-syllabic words)
  • Consonant substitution, deletion, or distortion
  • Voicing errors (i.e. bike for pike)
  • Trouble with consonant clusters
  • Vowel distortions, prolongations, substitutions (i.e. "yeah" pronounced as "yah")
  • "uh" inserted into words


Source: Medindia
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