Foreign Accent Syndrome: Texas Woman Wakes Up From Surgery With A British Accent

Foreign Accent Syndrome: Texas Woman Wakes Up From Surgery With A British Accent
It’s a bizarre condition, and there’s no cure: Waking up after surgery or a head injury, a very small percentage of people suddenly discover they speak in an entirely different accent than they used to, and can’t go back to their old one. It’s known as foreign accent syndrome, a rare condition in which patients develop what sounds like a foreign accent — or a combination of changed pitch or syllables — seemingly out of nowhere.Lisa Alamia, a Texas woman who underwent jaw surgery in December, is the latest to experience it. After waking up from a surgery that aimed to adjust her overbite, Alamia — who had been born and raised with a Southern twang — was suddenly speaking in what sounded like an authentic British accent.“I was very shocked,” Alamia told ABC News. “I didn’t know how to take it. I was very confused. I said ‘Y’all’ all the time before the accent. Once I got the accent, I started noticing I’d say ‘You all.’”There have only been about 100 recorded cases of the condition, and most of them resulted from stroke, traumatic brain injury, migraines, developmental problems, or other types of neurological damage that occurs in the brain’s speech regions. And despite the common belief that these patients magically learn how to speak in exact foreign accents, they’re actually not speaking in any specific foreign accent at all. Researchers argue that the new accent is often an accumulation of changed pronunciations due to damage in the brain’s linguistics center, and those listening to it just place it in whatever category that fits it best. So Alamia isn’t really speaking with a British accent; it just sounds like one, especially to Americans. This makes the most sense, since learning how to master a specific foreign accent or language is near to impossible, due to the complexity and subtlety of many sounds, stresses, and intonations of the words that aren’t native to us.According to Mount Sinai Hospital, FAS is caused by damage to the brain region that manages the rhythm and melody of speech. Patients with FAS typically experience a distorted rhythm and tone of words, often by a difference in the way they move their tongue or jaw.Foreign Accent Syndrome is so unlikely, in fact, that many doctors don’t even believe it’s real. “It’s such a rare condition that neurologists don’t believe that this is a real condition,” Dr. Toby Yaltho of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates, the neurologist who treated Alamia, told ABC News. “The big thing is to know that she’s not faking it.” Youtube

It’s a bizarre condition, and there’s no cure: Waking up after surgery or a head injury, a very small percentage of people suddenly discover they speak in an entirely different accent than they used to, and can’t go back to their old one. It’s known as foreign accent syndrome, a rare condition in which patients develop what sounds like a foreign accent — or a combination of changed pitch or syllables — seemingly out of nowhere.

Lisa Alamia, a Texas woman who underwent jaw surgery in December, is the latest to experience it. After waking up from a surgery that aimed to adjust her overbite, Alamia — who had been born and raised with a Southern twang — was suddenly speaking in what sounded like an authentic British accent.

“I was very shocked,” Alamia told ABC News. “I didn’t know how to take it. I was very confused. I said ‘Y’all’ all the time before the accent. Once I got the accent, I started noticing I’d say ‘You all.’”

There have only been about 100 recorded cases of the condition, and most of them resulted from stroke, traumatic brain injury, migraines, developmental problems, or other types of neurological damage that occurs in the brain’s speech regions. And despite the common belief that these patients magically learn how to speak in exact foreign accents, they’re actually not speaking in any specific foreign accent at all.

Researchers argue that the new accent is often an accumulation of changed pronunciations due to damage in the brain’s linguistics center, and those listening to it just place it in whatever category that fits it best. So Alamia isn’t really speaking with a British accent; it just sounds like one, especially to Americans. This makes the most sense, since learning how to master a specific foreign accent or language is near to impossible, due to the complexity and subtlety of many sounds, stresses, and intonations of the words that aren’t native to us.

According to Mount Sinai Hospital, FAS is caused by damage to the brain region that manages the rhythm and melody of speech. Patients with FAS typically experience a distorted rhythm and tone of words, often by a difference in the way they move their tongue or jaw.

Foreign Accent Syndrome is so unlikely, in fact, that many doctors don’t even believe it’s real. “It’s such a rare condition that neurologists don’t believe that this is a real condition,” Dr. Toby Yaltho of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates, the neurologist who treated Alamia, told ABC News. “The big thing is to know that she’s not faking it.”

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