When we first hear the term ‘Foreign Accent Syndrome’ or ‘FAS’, the first thought that comes to our mind is of someone speaking with a fake accent. However, FAS goes much beyond this. It is a rare medical condition, which occurs as a side effect of severe injury to the brain. Since very few people in this world have been diagnosed with this syndrome, most of the people don’t even know that such a medical condition actually exists. Infact, only fifty cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome were recorded between 1941 and 2006.
Causes, Signs and Symptoms
Foreign Accent Syndrome has been diagnosed to be a result of either a very severe head injury or a stroke. Apart from that, no other causes of the syndrome have surfaced till date. As for the signs and symptoms of the syndrome, people affected by it forget their native accent and start speaking in a known or unknown foreign accent. For example, a native British speaker affected by Foreign Accent Syndrome might start speaking with an American or Italian accent.
Researches concerning the syndrome were conducted at the Oxford University. In most of the cases, it was found that certain, specific parts of the brain had received injuries. The results pointed out that there were specific areas of the brain that controlled various linguistic functions and it was damage to these parts only that resulted in distorted pitch or differently pronounced syllables. The outcome was that the accent of an individual sounded different than before.
Need for Awareness
There is an immediate need for people to understand that a medical problem such as FAS exists. The people who suffer from the syndrome are often misunderstood by people as those who try to adopt or imitate any accent. Instead of being jeered at, the sufferer of Foreign Accent Syndrome needs to be understood and sympathized with. Otherwise, they might become a recluse or start suffering from an inferiority complex.