After being seriously injured in a car crash, one woman began speaking with a French accent.
Leanne Rowe grew up and has lived her entire life in the Australian island commonwealth of Tasmania. She thought her new speech patterns were the result of recovering from a broken back and jaw, as well as powerful painkillers. But it became apparent her new speech pattern was permanent. Eight years after the crash, Rowe still suffers from Foreign Accent Syndrome.
"It makes me so angry because I am Australian," Rowe told ABC. "I am not French! I do not have anything against French people."
Foreign Accent Syndrome is a rare condition that alters the speech of the sufferer to sound like an entirely new and unfamiliar accent. There have only been a few dozen cases since the syndrome was first identified in 1907. Rowe is thought to be only the second in Australia. Psychologist Karen Croot is one of the few researchers to focus on the syndrome. Croot told ABC that Rowe is not imitating a French accent, but rather her speech impairment just happens to sound French.
"It's an accident of chance that what happens to their speech happens to overlap with the features of a known accent."
Rowe says the condition has made her anxious and depressed, she often avoids people and has her daughter speak for her in public. She's slowly coming to terms with what may be a lifelong condition.
"I don't try to hold it in anymore" Rowe told ABC.