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Aussie develops French accent after head injury

AFP-JIJI

An Australian woman who now speaks with a French-sounding accent after a head injury eight years ago has revealed the experience has left her feeling frustrated and reclusive.

Leanne Rowe, born and raised on the southern Australian island of Tasmania, was in a serious car crash that left her with a broken back and jaw. “Slowly, as my jaw started to heal, they said that I was slurring my words because I was on very powerful tablets,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. late Sunday.

As she regained her health, Rowe found she had what sounded like a French accent. “It makes me so angry because I am Australian,” she said. “I am not French (though) I do not have anything against the French people.”

Rowe has not had a definitive diagnosis but her family doctor Robert Newton believes she is Australia’s second ever case of the rare condition called foreign accent syndrome. It is linked to damage to the part of the brain that controls speech. “She had a normal, if you like, Australian accent for the whole time I knew her before that,” he said. “She’d done French at school but she’d never been to France, didn’t have any French friends at all.”

In 2010, a New Zealand woman with multiple sclerosis found her Kiwi tones turning into a mix of Welsh, Scottish and north London accents, and a subsequent scan revealed two lesions on her brain. Three years ago, a woman in England reportedly began speaking with a Chinese accent after suffering a migraine.