Foreign Accent Syndrome

June 26, 2009 § Leave a comment

Foreign Accent Syndrome is an unusual phenomenon that has traditionally been associated with neurological damage.  Often stroke victims when regaining language production skills find themselves with a totally new accent.  The youtube link presents a woman from Indiana, USA who suddenly seems to have acquired what others have described as a LOndon accent.

While she certainly no longer has an American accent, I personally am not entirely happy with the London label. I think a better way to understand foreign  in this context might be ‘newly acquired’. Research has also suggested that listeners of those with the phenomenon seldom completely agree what has accent has been acquired.  This is not surprising given what we know about asking people to listen to second language accented English and name their mother tongue/nationality.

Research reported in Scientific AmericanJune, 3, 2009, now suggests that the Foreign Accent Syndrome may not necessarily be linked with neural damage. Some people living with FAS show no history of brain injury or abnormality and yet have an accent remarkably different to others in their milieu.



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