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Migraine gives woman Chinese accent

Published: 1:23PM Thursday April 22, 2010 Source: ONE News

A UK woman has begun speaking with a Chinese accent after suffering severe migraines.

Sarah Colwill, 35, says the change is down to an extremely rare medical condition known as Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS).

"I knew I sounded different but I didn't know how much and people said I sounded a bit Chinese.

"Then I had another attack and when the ambulance crew arrived they said I definitely sounded Chinese," Colwill told the UK's Sky News.

FAS causes sufferers to lose the ability to talk in their native accent and is thought to be caused by strokes and brain injuries.

Colwill says her accent change was startling.

"I spoke to my stepdaughter on the phone from hospital and she didn't recognise who I was.

"She said I sounded Chinese. Since then I have had my friends hanging up on me because they think I'm a hoax caller."

After researching FAS on the internet Colwill has been in contact with doctors from Oxford University who are interested in studying her case.
Colwill is now undergoing speech therapy to try to revert to her West Country accent.

"I just want my own voice back, but I don't know if I will get it back," says Colwill.

Experts believe FAS can be triggered by a stroke or head injury, when tiny areas of the left side of the brain linked with language, pitch and speech patterns are damaged.

Sufferers can develop an accent without ever having heard it before as it is a change in speech patterns caused a brain injury which cause the lengthening of syllables, change in pitch or mispronunciation of sounds.

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