New Zealand woman has rare foreign accent syndrome

July 13, 2010

A New Zealand woman was reported Tuesday to be suffering from the rare foreign accent syndrome with her Kiwi tones turning into a mix of Welsh, Scottish and North London accents.

Bronwyn Fox, a multiple sclerosis sufferer from the southern New Zealand city of Invercargill, told the Southland Times she woke one morning to find her had changed and an showed two on the back of her brain.

Her doctor believed the change in her speech was related to the lesions but had not been able to offer much further help.

Fox is a third-generation New Zealander who has never visited the United Kingdom and when she first talked to friends on the phone with her new voice they thought it was a hoax call and hung up.

"People say 'where do you come from?' And I say 'Winton' and they say "no, no but where are you from originally?'," she said in her new accent.

"It's very hard for people to realise it's come from my head."

Her husband Rex was unconcerned.

"It's quite entertaining. It brightens up a boring day sometimes," he said.

Only a few dozen people worldwide have been officially documented as suffering from the syndrome since it was first recorded in 1907. It is linked to damage to the part of the brain that controls speech.

Other known cases of the disorder include an English woman speaking with a French accent after having a stroke and a Norwegian woman spoke with a German accent after being hit by shrapnel in 1941.

Earlier this year a woman in England began speaking with a Chinese after suffering a migraine.

"I've never been to China. I just want my own voice back but I don't know if I ever will. I moved to Plymouth when I was 18 months old so I've always spoken like a local," Sarah Colwill told the Daily Mail.

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5 comments

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NeuroPulse
not rated yet Jul 13, 2010
WHat the heck? Do people have to have heard the accent before? They must have.
frajo
not rated yet Jul 13, 2010
The symptoms are real. But their designations are funny and misleading. Who are the persons who invent descriptors like "Chinese accent"? Could they tell Chinese from Thai?
CarolinaScotsman
not rated yet Jul 13, 2010
It wouldn't be so bad if one got to pick the accent. Oh well, guess they have to put up with a random pick.
PPihkala
not rated yet Jul 13, 2010
I think it goes like this: People in certain are use their voice with some way. And people with this brain problem lose the ability to speak the way they used and instead their speech begins to sound like they were associated with some other are.

This tells that we have the ability to modulate our voice to conform to different locals, at least until there is this problem that modulates the outcome of one's speech.
RobertKarlStonjek
not rated yet Jul 14, 2010
If foreign language articulation can be referred to as 'speaking in tongues', what can foreign accent articulation be referred to?

I'm voting for 'speaking in lips'.

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