Strange as it may seem, foreign accent syndrome is real.
An Arizona woman who has never left the U.S. went to bed one night and woke up speaking as though she’s from the U.K. Michelle Myers, of the Grand Canyon State, was diagnosed with foreign accent syndrome (FAS).
Yes, it’s a thing.
“Everybody only sees or hears Mary Poppins,” Myers, a former Texas beauty queen with seven kids, told KNXV-TV.
Over the past seven years, Myers has spoken in various accents. First Irish, then Australian. Each time, the accent lasted about a week. But her British accent is still going strong since 2015, when she went to sleep with a blinding and immobilizing headache and awakened a changed woman.
“They send in the psychiatrist at the hospital and make sure you’re not a loon,” Myers said.
FAS is a rare condition — one that’s affected fewer than 100 people in the last century. It is usually linked to a stroke or neurological trauma or impairment. Other causes have also been reported including multiple sclerosis. In some cases, such as a born-and-bred Texas woman who woke up talking like a Brit after jaw surgery, no clear cause has been identified. …
“Some people think it’s physiological; others think it’s psychological,” said Myers. “People like me — we don’t care which one it is. We just really want to be taken seriously and if it is something that’s going to hurt me, help me.”
Wikipedia has a nice write up that clarifies a few things. For one, it seems that the foreign accent in verified studied cases was not really a foreign accent, but it is interpreted as such.
Foreign accent syndrome is a rare medical condition in which patients develop speech patterns that are perceived as a foreign accent that is different from their native accent, without having acquired it in the perceived accent’s place of origin.
Foreign accent syndrome usually results from a stroke, but can also develop from head trauma, migraines or developmental problems. The condition was first reported in 1907, and between 1941 and 2009 there were 62 recorded cases.
Its symptoms result from distorted articulatory planning and coordination processes and although popular news articles commonly attempt to identify the closest regional accent, speakers suffering from foreign accent syndrome acquire neither a specific foreign accent nor any additional fluency in a foreign language. Despite an unconfirmed news report in 2010 that a Croatian speaker had gained the ability to speak fluent German after emergence from a coma, there has been no verified case where a patient’s foreign language skills have improved after a brain injury.
The fun and odd thing about this for me is that I was experimenting with the British Siri voice tonight and then did a search for strange news on a completely different device and the above is the story I found. Did some monitor, human or AI, send back this particular search result because I had been speaking to the English Accent Siri in an English accent just to goof around?