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When I was a kid, I looooved doing impressions - I got a kick out of changing my accent and
prank calling my friends. But, some people claim to be stuck with a foreign accent. Is
that a thing?
Hello communicators, Lissette here for DNews. A mother of two who lives in the UK seems
to confuse a lot of people. If you saw her in a supermarket, you’d probably guess she
was a local, that is, until you hear her speak. Some people think she’s French, others German,
Italian, and yet others even Japanese! She just doesn’t sound British. People can’t
seem to agree on what accent she has, but they are certain she is speaking in an foreign accent.
The thing is, she’s never lived anywhere but the UK, so what’s going on here? Is
she faking it?
Well, she told a Professor at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, “I’m not
trying to be foreign. I’m just trying to be me.” Turns out, she’s telling the truth.
In March 2006 she began involuntarily slurring her words and in the matter of days, her voice
had completely changed. Doctors were baffled. But, after numerous tests and observations,
she found out that she is one of the more than 140 reported cases of people suffering
from a condition called Foreign Accent Syndrome or FAS.
Foreign accent syndrome is a motor speech disorder in which a person’s intonation
and stress patterns are altered. The way they compose phrases and sentences is also affected.
This causes them to be perceived as non-native speakers of their mother tongue. In the UK
woman’s specific case, her funny accent was a result of cerebral vasculitis - basically
this means that her brain was not receiving enough oxygen in areas responsible for language.
But, other types of brain injuries can cause people to have Foreign Accent Syndrome too.
Another British woman woke up with a Chinese sounding accent after having a severe migraine.
Yet others, have sounded differently since birth. A Dutch boy can’t help but speak
in what sounds like a French or Mediterranean accent. Before him, all known cases of Foreign
Accent Syndrome were associated with brain damage, so his case tells scientists there
may also be a genetic component involved. This is why Dr. Johan Verhoeven from City
University London and his team decided to investigate what was going on. By using single
emission CT scans, they found that his brain had significantly less blood flow to certain
areas compared to other people. They saw reduced flow to the prefrontal cortex in the left
hemisphere, which makes sense because this area is associated with speech. But, they
also found that he had less blood flow to the right side of his cerebellum. This area
is usually not associated with speech - it’s thought to be more strongly linked to body
movement. So this finding tells researchers that perhaps the cerebellum is also involved
with cognitive functions - like producing speech.
People who develop these so called accents are obviously not faking it. It’s a real
thing. That being said, calling their condition Foreign Accent Syndrome is a bit of misnomer
that may contribute to some people’s skepticism. Nonetheless, for people with FAS, speaking
this way is not a matter of choice. It’s just what it is - like a speech impediment.
One speech impediment that is a bit controversial is the lisp. Check out my episode on why some
people have lisps here.
Do you have a favorite accent? Share your thoughts in the comments and remember
to subscribe so you never miss an episode of DNews. Thanks for watching.
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大腦損傷能讓你擁有外國腔嗎 (Can Brain Damage Give You A Foreign Accent?)

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吳芳綺 發佈於 2016 年 6 月 9 日    Grace Chen 翻譯    Mandy Lin 審核
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