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A 45-year-old woman in Arizona, United States, goes to sleep with extreme headaches only to wake up with a foreign accent, the Washington Post reported. While her Irish and Australian accents disappeared after two weeks, the British intonation reportedly lingered for two years.
Michelle Myers said she has been diagnosed with the foreign accent syndrome (FAS) — a lesser known speech disorder in which the patient loses his ability to talk in the native accent following a brain injury. The speech rhythms and pronunciations sound like other accents. For instance affected people might cut out articles such as “the” and drop letters, turning an American “yeah” into a Scandinavian “yah,” for instance.
In Myers’s case, doctors noted her case was likely caused by a side effect of a hemiplegic migraine, which produces symptoms that are similar to a stroke, reported Fox News. “It’s actually quite dangerous,” Myers said. “It looks just like a stroke, but it’s not a stroke. They don’t know how or what triggers it.”
“People would think it was a joke, saying things like, ‘You sound like a Spice Girl,’” Myers was quoted as saying by the Sun. “It was hard, because I was really struggling. I have come to terms with the fact I might sound like this forever. I realise it’s part of me now.”
A linguist from the Brown University, Sheila Blumstein, who has researched on FAS, told The Washington Post that a Virginia woman fell down a stairwell which rattled her brain and she awoke speaking with a Russian-like accent. The injury caused her brain to truncate pronunciations for “this” and “that,” resulting in foreign-sounding “dis” and “dat.”