The boy who spoke . . . Muggle awakes from brain surgery with new accent
debaron at uiuc.edu
Wed Sep 19 05:18:30 UTC 2007
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The boy who spoke . . . Muggle awakes from brain surgery with new
The British newspaper the Telegraph reports that ten-year-old William
McCartney-Moore woke up from brain surgery with a new accent.
When the youngster came down with a rare form of meningitis he had a
twang characteristic of the Yorkshire area in the north of England,
where he’s lived all his life, but after surgery to remove fluid
around his brain he spoke with the kind of posh, upper class vowels
one associates with Masterpiece Theatre’s Alistair Cooke or Star
Trek’s Patrick Stewart.
In 2006, the Journal of Neurolinguistics devoted an entire issue to
this phenomenon, called “Foreign Accent Syndrome,” or FAS, for short
Actors alter their accents on purpose, often with the help of dialect
coaches. So do politicians. Contrary to popular opinion, Gerald Ford
acquired his Michigan accent by being born in Grand Rapids, not by
playing football for the Michigan Wolverines without a helmet. But
Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are said to have sounded much more
southern before they ran for president,
Since dialect coaching is slow and expensive, and it doesn’t always
take, some candidates may try to induce FAS by having a campaign
worker hit them upside the head with a flagpole or other politically
blunt instrument. However, neurologists are warning politicians not
to consider Foreign Accent Syndrome a quick, cheap fix.
Read more about Foreign Accent Syndrome and its effect both on
politicians and on otherwise normal people ...
the Web of Language
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801
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