Going to bed and with a migraine and waking up speaking with a French accent is a very rare condition, however, it has happened and is known as Foreign Accent Syndrome. Two Australians have the Syndrome and 62 people worldwide have been affected.
A Tasmanian Women, who has the Syndrome, recently said her condition has left her feeling anxious and depressed. Eight years ago Leanne Rowe woke up with a broken back and jaw after being involved in a serious car accident.
“Slowly, as my jaw started to heal, they said that I was slurring my words because I was on very powerful tablets,” she said. However, the slurring turned into what sounded like a French accent, which she has spoken with ever since.
The University of Sydney’s Karen Croot is one of the few to have researched Foreign Accent Syndrome. Ms Croot said it occurs when tissue in the speech area of the brain is damaged. She said it is not actually a French accent, it just sounds like it to the listener.
“It’s just an accident of chance that happens to that person that what happens to their speech happens to overlap with the features of a known accent,” Ms Croot said.
Ms Rowe’s daughter, Kate Mundy, said the syndrome has had a profound impact on her Mother and she now does most of the talking for her in public.