Woman Woke Up Sounding Chinese – Foreign accent syndrome

Sarah Colwill suffers from Foreign Accent Syndrome. She goes to the hospital with a terrible headache. She comes out speaking with a Chinese accent. According to BBC News:

Migraine sufferer starts speaking with Chinese accent
Migraine sufferer starts speaking with Chinese accent

38-year-old Sarah Colwill from the United Kingdom, who suffered a major migraine and woke up sounding like she was doing a terrible, racist Chinese accent a little over three years ago. BBC One ran a special on Colwill called The Woman Who Woke Up Chinese. Highlights of the TLC-worthy one-woman reality show who says she feels like she’s stuck inside of some kinda weird social experiment.

Colwill grew up in the English city of Plymouth, and has never been to China. I’m going to assume she hasn’t spent a lot of time with Chinese non-native English speakers with a similar accent. But this apparently how she speaks now. Colwill has been diagnosed with a rare speech impediment called Foreign Accent Syndrome.

Foreign accent syndrome is a rare medical condition in which patients develop what appears to be a foreign accent. Foreign accent syndrome usually results from a stroke, but can also develop from head trauma, migraines or developmental problems. Its symptoms result from distorted articulatory planning and coordination processes and although popular news articles commonly attempt to identify the closest regional accent, speakers suffering from foreign accent syndrome acquire neither a specific foreign accent nor any additional fluency in a foreign language.