It’s a specific kind of irritating when someone you know, apropos of nothing, starts affecting a foreign accent. Luckily, it doesn’t happen too often. But the next time you detect an air of Hugh Grant in your coworker’s morning greeting, pause before you roll your eyes: This person might be suffering from a medical condition!
Foreign accent syndrome (known as FAS — it has a acronym so it must be legit!) is allegedly a real thing that happens to people. A certain Michelle Myers of Buckeye, Arizona told her local ABC news affiliate that two years ago she fell asleep with a headache and woke up sounding like Mary Poppins.
The 45-year-old said doctors diagnosed her with FAS, likely a side-effect from a hemiplegic migraine, which is similar to a stroke. FAS most commonly affects patients who suffer injuries to the language center of the brain, caused by stroke or blunt trauma.
Myers said this has happened to her more than once, and that her accents have run the Anglophone gamut, dipping into Australian and Irish for two week periods.
Frankly, we’d find all this more convincing if she started speaking in an actual foreign language.
According to the Washington Post, the disorder was discovered in 1907, when the French neurologist Pierre Marie observed a stroke patient who pivoted to an Alsatian accent. In the century and change since then, only 60 cases have been documented.
Myers, who also suffers from Ehlers-Danlos, a syndrome that makes your skin extra stretchy and joints uber flexible, wishes she could go back to the way she was before that fateful night.
“I would give anything to be normal. I would give anything,” she told Fox News. “Rare diseases are very emotional. You feel very alone, isolated. I want to help someone so they don’t have to live in hiding.”
To any FAS victims reading this: You don’t have to be afraid anymore.