For those who aren’t familiar with some very very poor french the title reads Weird Humans – Foreign Accent Syndrome.
See what I did there!
Foreign accent syndrome (FAS) is a weird and rare medical condition where patients develop speech patterns associated with foreign accents. It was first described in 1907 by neurologist Pierre Marie and it is such a strange condition that the accent can be from somewhere that the patient has never even visited! This rare disorder typically comes about as a side effect following stroke or other brain injury. The person with the condition not only changes the tone of voice, but will also change tongue placement during speech.
FAS has been documented in cases around the world, including accent changes from Japanese to Korean, British English to French, American-English to British English, and Spanish to Hungarian.
Some common speech changes associated with FAS include:
- Fairly predictable errors
- Unusual prosody, including equal and excess stress (especially in multi-syllabic words)
- Consonant substitution, deletion, or distortion
- Voicing errors (i.e. bike for pike)
- Trouble with consonant clusters
- Vowel distortions, prolongations, substitutions (i.e. “yeah” pronounced as “yah”)
- “uh” inserted into words
Treatments generally include extensive speech therapy to try and correct FAS.
Here is a rather strange case study reported by the BBC:
Happy Monday! It’s a bank holiday today in the UK so I’m relaxing after having had far too much chocolate. So it felt like the perfect time to talk about a weird human condition.
There are many things that can go wrong with the human body many of which you’ll know about but here is one you might not. It’s called Alice in Wonderland Syndrome or otherwise known as Todds syndrome. The neurological syndrome presents as a migrane and causes the patients to have distorted vision. This can make things appear very big, small or far away. Just as Alice did when she drank the potions in the book. It can also cause hallucinations and cause the patients to have an inaccurate sense of time passing again just as in the book.
Photo credit: Lars Leetaru
This is one patients description of his symptoms caused by the syndrome:
“quite suddenly objects appear small and distant (teliopsia) or large and close (peliopsia). I feel as I am getting shorter and smaller ‘shrinking’ and also the size of persons are not longer than my index finger (a lilliputian proportion). Sometimes I see the blind in the window or the television getting up and down, or my leg or arm is swinging. I may hear the voices of people quite loud and close or faint and far. Occasionally, I experience attacks of migrainous headache associated with eye redness, flashes of lights and a feeling of giddiness. I am always conscious to the intangible changes in myself and my environment.”
The symptoms can occur several times a day and often before sleep. However the syndrome is not dangerous and it appears to fade over time.
If you’d like to read more on the syndrome have a read of this new york times article!