He foreign accent syndrome it is one of those rare conditions for which we can assure that the brain is a fascinating organ. Since it was first described in 1907, fewer than 100 cases, although there may be some unrecorded. All of them are characterized by a change in speech of patients, who begin to pronounce the words with accents from places they have never traveled to. Usually occurs after trauma or strokealthough there have been some exceptions.
For example, in 2021 the situation of an Australian woman who began to speak with an Irish accent after a tonsil surgery. In addition, another case was recently published, in which an American man also started talking like an Irishman after being diagnosed with a prostate cancer.
It’s not always about Irish accent. there have been cases from American to English, from Norwegian to German or even from British to Russian. Generally, they are accents with which patients are not familiar. Therefore, it does not seem that the syndrome of the foreign accent has anything to do with an unconscious imitation. It is something very different; where, in reality, the perception of the people around the patients. And it is that, in reality, they do not speak with an accent from another country. It just seems so.
From victim to alleged war spy
One of the most curious cases of foreign accent syndrome is that of a norwegian woman that in 1941 he suffered a brain injury by shrapnel from a German bombardment. Fortunately, he was able to save his life, but shortly after something strange happened, because he left his usual Norwegian accent and began to speak with a suspect stop german.
This led her to lose the trust of her neighbors, who began to think that it was a nazi spy. As a result, she was thrown out of the village in which she lived, without her being able to explain that, in reality, she had nothing to do with the Germans.
At that time, the foreign accent syndrome had already been described, but rather as something anecdotal. That is the reason why no one understood what was happening to that Norwegian woman.
Over time, new cases have been described. Accent change usually begins shortly after a brain injury and may remain forever or subside as it recovers. can also be fixed or intermittentdepending on the severity of the case. Its origin is not fully described, although there is something that is clear. And it is that these patients are not really speaking with a foreign accent. What happens to them is that they experience changes in the mobility of the tongue and jaw. That is what makes them articulate the words in a different way, to the point that those around them, or themselves, can find similarities with the accent from another country
A good example is that of the Australian woman who experienced foreign accent syndrome after tonsil surgery. It all started while I sang in the shower and, although she was aware of the change, it was not until some acquaintances heard her speak and told her that she had an Irish accent that she did not think so.
In fact, when he began to experience this problem, he was showing his evolution on TikTok, where many users accused her of being a fake. For this they claimed that it was not a realistic Irish accent. But it didn’t have to be, because the foreign accent syndrome doesn’t consist of that.
Reasons beyond brain injury
There have been a few cases of foreign accent syndrome in cancer patients. The last one was a california man that he began to experience this change in the way he spoke when 20 months had passed since the diagnosis. She reported that she had never been to Ireland, and also that she had not suffered any head trauma. In fact, the brain MRI that was performed on him was completely normal.
Yes you saw that his cancer was spreading. So much so that, unfortunately, it ended up causing his death. At no point in the progression of his disease did he lose his Irish accent, making him such a striking case that was even published in british medical journal.
In this study, his foreign accent syndrome was classified as an effect of paraneoplastic syndrome. This is how all the symptoms that occur in cancer patients are called, but cannot be explained by the tumor. They occur, for example, for hormonal reasons or related to the immune system. And it would not be something unusual, since some cases of foreign accent syndrome have also been associated with these phenomena.
In any case, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding this curious syndrome. Much more research is needed, but it is not easy with so few diagnosed cases. At least we now know that it exists and possibly it would not cost anyone exile, as it cost that Norwegian woman. Or maybe yes, humans have a surprising tendency to stumble over the same stones, even though science gives us guidelines to avoid stumbling.
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