Eight years ago, Leanne Rowe was in a serious car crash that resulted in a broken back, broken jaw and … French accent!
Rowe, who is now unable to speak with her original Aussie accent often has her daughter speak for her in public.
“I am not French,” Rowe told the ABC on Sunday. “It makes me so angry because I am Australian.”
Foreign accent syndrome is an extremely rare condition in which brain injuries change a person’s speech patterns, giving them a different accent.
“It’s an impairment of motor control,” said Dr. Karen Croot, one of the few experts in foreign accent syndrome. “Speech is one of the most complicated things we do, and there are a lot of brain centers involved in coordinating a lot of moving parts. If one or more of them are damaged, that can affect the timing, melody and tension of their speech.
Rowe, however, has decided to stop trying to “hold in” her accent. “For me, it was not healthy,” she said.
“It has affected her life greatly,” her daughter explained. “People see the funny side of it, and think it’s really interesting… but I’ve seen the impacts on mum’s life.”
Another similar case, a 35-year-old British woman, Sarah Colwill began speaking with what sounded like a Chinese accent after suffering a serious migraine.
“To think I am stuck with this Chinese accent is getting me down,” she said. “My voice has started to annoy me now. It is not my voice.”