Another baffling case as foreign accent syndrome (an actual medical condition) strikes again. When will a cure emerge? I prescribe being wrapped tightly in an American flag for two days, followed by 10 cc’s of apple pie. Spokane, WA’s Spokesman-Review reports:
Over the next few days, the swelling subsided and the pain vanished, but Butler’s newly acquired accent did not. Though it has softened over time, she’s never again spoken like a native Oregonian from Madras. To most people, she sounds British.
It took months to find an explanation: foreign accent syndrome, a disorder so rare that only about 60 cases have been documented worldwide since the early 1900s.
Foreign accent syndrome is usually caused by a stroke, though it also has been associated with multiple sclerosis, head injuries and migraines.
One of the first cases was reported at the turn of the last century by a French neurologist. But the best known case, documented by Norwegian neurologist Georg Herman Monrad-Krohn, was a 30-year-old woman who was hit by shrapnel from a German air raid over Oslo in 1941. The injury left her with a speech impairment that gradually improved, turning into what sounded like a German accent to her countrymen. Suspecting that she was a collaborator, they ostracized her.