A(nother) Woman Spontaneously Developed a Mysterious British Accent

Photo: Doug Armand

Well this is a wee bit peculiar. ABC News reports that Lisa Alamia, a Texan woman, went in for surgery for an overbite and woke up with a British accent. “I was very shocked,” she told ABC’s Kelly McCarthy. “I didn’t know how to take it. I was very confused. I said ‘Y’all’ all the time before the accent. Once I got the accent, I started noticing I’d say, ‘You all.’”

Alamia has a rare, mysterious condition called — appropriately — foreign accent syndrome. In the article’s accompanying Good Morning America video, there are excerpts of Alamia, who has never been outside the country with the exception of Mexico, talking like a Brit:

Her neurologist has no idea what’s going on, and for good reason: To the extent anyone understands foreign accent syndrome, doctors think it’s usually connected to brain damage, often of the sort incurred during a stroke. Here’s how Melissa Dahl explained the prevailing medical logic last year, in an article about a case involving a lady who developed a British accent after a stroke:

The medical team diagnosed her with foreign accent syndrome, a change in speech usually caused by a brain injury — in this case, a stroke. It’s rare, but it happens when damage occurs to the part of the brain involved in the basic motor functions used in speech. It’s called foreign accent syndrome because, typically, the patient’s new speech pattern isn’t recognizable as any particular accent. (In 1996, for instance, there was the case of a Midwestern man who, after a stroke, began speaking in what sounded like a British-Scottish-Irish accent, with some Eastern-European influences thrown in there, too.)

So at least there’s a theory behind why this normally occurs. In this case, though, Alamia’s neurologist examined her and found no sign of a brain injury, so there’s no easy explanation for why she’s suffering from a condition which doctors estimate only affects about one person per year anywhere in the world. In other words, it’s a jolly good medical mystery, innit?

A(nother) Woman Developed a Weird British Accent