Foreign Accent Syndrome

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Tue Nov 25 20:44:11 UTC 2003

Kim & Rima McKinzey said:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Grant Barrett <gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG>
>>Subject:      Re: Foreign Accent Syndrome
>>A supposed example of Foreign Accent Syndrome:
>>"An American woman told how how she suddenly developed a British accent
>>after suffering a stroke.
>>"When Tiffany Roberts, 57, recovered from the stroke she found she had
>>an accent placed somewhere between East London and the West Country.
>>"Even the pitch of her voice changed, becoming much higher than the
>>deep Indiana drawl she once had."
>This was actually on the news last night.  To my ears, she did NOT
>have a British accent.  There were a few words here and there that
>might be interpreted as vaguely British in vowel quality, but that
>was about it.

A number of years ago, I read up on this syndrome for a class I was
teaching. In general, what you observe is the case. Someone with this
syndrome might sound to non-francophones like he or she is speaking
with a French accent, but nobody who's actually familiar with a
French accent would think so. Essentially, FAS gives fluent speech
with a lot of phonological problems, so it sounds like the speaker
has *some* kind of foreign accent, but, as far as I know, the
perceived accent is never identifiable with any actual foreign accent.

Alice Faber                                             faber at
Haskins Laboratories                                  tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                                     fax (203) 865-8963

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