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article imageMigraines give English woman Chinese accent

By Laura Trowbridge     Apr 20, 2010 in Health
A 35-year-old woman from Devon county in South West England began speaking with a Chinese accent after suffering migraine headaches.
It is thought that she suffers from an extremely rare medical condition known as Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS). This rare disorder is believed to be caused by strokes and brain injuries, which makes people lose the ability to talk in their native accent.
Sarah Colwill says she does not know when she will get her normal voice back or if it ever will come back. She said: "Some people have it for a few years, some people forever, nobody knows."
She said the day her voice changed she had found it difficult to speak, and when she did speak her voice sounded Chinese. The Chinese accent lasted for about a week before changing to a more Eastern European accent, which has now remained with her speech ever since.
After one migraine attack she was taken to hospital by ambulance. From the hospital she called her step-daughter who did not recognize her voice.
"She said I sounded Chinese. Since then I have had my friends hanging up on me because they think I'm a hoax caller," said Colwill.
Mrs Colwill researced FAS on the internet, and then contacted doctors from Oxford University who are interested in studying her condition. She is undergoing speech therapy to try to restore her native West Country accent.
"I am frustrated to sound like this. I just want my own voice back, but I don't know if I will get it back," Colwill said.
There have been about 60 recorded cases of FAS since it was first identified in the 1940s. One of the first known cases was in 1941 when a Norwegian woman developed a German accent after she was hit by bomb shrapnel during an air raid. She was then shunned by her community, who thought she was a German spy.
More about Foreign accent syndrome, Migrane, Language, Headache
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