A British woman who woke up with a strong Chinese accent, despite never having been to China, has been told it’s permanent.
Sarah Colwell, 40, had a stroke, and woke up with a completely different accent.
It’s one of only 20 known cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome worldwide. Sarah said, “They’ve tried various treatments, they’ve tried everything, but nothing makes a difference. Being told I would be like this forever was a heartbreaking thing to hear. I’m still the same person inside. Of course, people who did not know me before have met a totally different person, but I am still Sarah from Plymouth. Sometimes people cannot understand me, which is frustrating. But when my speech is really bad, I just don’t speak. I cannot make my voice sound any different. It’s what it is and I cannot change it.”
It was first identified during the Second World War when a Norwegian woman was hit by shrapnel during an air raid. She suffered brain damage and developed a strong German accent, which led to her being ostracized by her community in 1941.