Updated 27 June 2016

Waking up from surgery with a foreign accent

Imagine waking up after surgery with a British, French or American accent. It happens in rare cases of foreign accent syndrome.


Being from Texas, Lisa Alamia had a strong Southern accent. But all that changed a few months ago, she told CNN, when she woke up after surgery on her jaw, to find that her accent had changed and was noticeably British.

Lisa's doctor thought the side effect would fade with time, but when Lisa consulted a neurologist she was surprised to find that she was suffering from a little known disorder called foreign accent syndrome and that the change was probably permanent. Only around 100 cases of this syndrome have been documented around the world.

Foreign accent syndrome is usually caused by strokes or brain injuries, and has been known to change accents from Japanese to Korean, or Spanish to Hungarian. Speech changes noticeably, but can still be understood, although it was a bit of a shock for Lisa's children to hear their mom sounding like someone else.

Read more about foreign accent syndrome.