Linguistic Link: The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly in the Plain

Mail Online reports on an American woman was sedated for dental surgery and woke up with a British accent.

The 56-year-old tax adviser was given an anaesthetic a year and a half ago while her dentist removed several teeth.  She said: ‘I woke up and my mouth was all sore and swollen, and I talked funny. The dentist said, “You’ll talk normally when the swelling goes down.”’  But while the swelling did go down, her voice did not change.  The accent remained and has now transformed into a more German or eastern European sounding voice.

Neurologist Ted Lowenkopf, of the Providence Stroke Centre in Oregon, diagnosed her with foreign accent syndrome, a rare neurological disorder.  The condition is so rare in fact that only around 60 cases have been reported worldwide since the 1900’s.  Sufferers usually gain their new found voices after severe head trauma such as shrapnel wounds acquired in combat, or after strokes.

It appears Mrs Butler has suffered neither of these and it is still unclear what caused her speech pattern to change. He suspects Miss Butler suffered a small stroke which damaged the part of her brain that affects speech pattern and intonation.

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