Foreign Accent Syndrome, Not Just a Great Band Name

This morning's Wall Street Journal ticks off "plenty of unusual ailments that are quite real," with Foreign Accent Syndrome topping the list. And, as it turns out, there's a significantly local connection to this rare ailment, which involves folks with brain injuries (most of the time, anyway) rather suddenly and quite inexplicably speaking with what sounds like a foreign accent, natch, though "often of a country they've never visited."

So happens that researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have been studying FAS for a while, even presenting two studies at an Acoustical Society of America last year. Write UTD's William Katz and Diane Garst, "FAS is most often caused by damage to the brain caused by a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Other causes have also been reported including multiple sclerosis and conversion disorder and in some cases no clear cause has been identified." On their Web site, they even present some examples from a "patient [who] was raised in upstate New York and has been living in Texas for over 15 years." In semi-related news, when I lived in Los Angeles for a brief while in the mid-'90s, colleagues would call my dad just to hear what a "real Texan" sounded like. --Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky