Foreign accent syndrome (FAS) is a medical condition as a result of which the patient suddenly develops such speech patterns that he or she is perceived to speak with a “foreign” accent without having acquired it in the perceived accent’s place of origin. FAS is most often caused by a stroke or traumatic brain injury. It may also be caused by migraines, multiple sclerosis, or developmental problems though in some cases no clear cause can be identified. This is a rare syndrome and therefore, it takes a multidisciplinary team of experts including neurologists, radiologists, neuropsychologists, clinical psychologist, and speech-language pathologists to evaluate and diagnose the syndrome.
The syndrome has been documented in cases across the world including accent changes from British English to French, American-English to British English, Spanish to Hungarian, and Japanese to Korean.
The speech changes related to FAS are characterized by fairly predictable errors; “uh” inserted into words; unusual prosody, including equal and excess stress (especially in multi-syllabic words); voicing errors (i.e., bike for pike); consonant substitution, deletion, or distortion; vowel distortions, prolongations, substitutions (i.e. “yeah” pronounced as “yah”); trouble with consonant clusters.