Lisa Alamia, an American woman shocked family and friends when she began to speak in British accent after waking up from surgery.
The Texan woman who has never left the US aside from a mission trip to Mexico woke up with a “British” accent after an operation on her jaw.
According to The Independent, Lisa Alamia, from Rosenberg, Texas, had surgery to correct an overbite six months ago, and found her speech was drastically changed after the operation. Despite virtually never having left the US, she now speaks with an accent similar to someone from the south of England, who perhaps has spent time in Australia.
She was diagnosed with foreign accent syndrome, an extremely rare disorder thought to be neurological, in which a person’s accent suddenly changes without explanation.
Ms Alamia’s neurologist Dr Toby Yaltho told local news station KHou that only about 100 people have been diagnosed with the syndrome in the past 100 years, but he thinks there may be patients out there who are not yet known about.
He said: “I think as we raise awareness we might identify more patients or more people who have this condition.”
Usually, the syndrome is diagnosed after a head injury, and is treated as indicative of brain damage or neurological upset, but all tests on Ms Alamia came back normal, with no evidence that anything had gone wrong with her neurological functions.
Ms Alamia told KHou, in an accent that did not sound at all Texan, that she had stayed quiet for the months following the surgery, worried that people would think she was faking it.
Her husband said that she had “cried for days” about her new accent, and was afraid to go to church.
“I didn’t know the reaction I was going to get from people,” she said. “So I didn’t know if they’re going to judge me. Are they going to think I’m lying? Or even understand how I’m speaking?”
Ms Alamia said she noticed herself saying “mum” rather than “mom” straight away, and that certain words such as “just kidding” sound different, and people don’t always understand what she means. Her new accent is also making it harder to connect with her Hispanic roots.
“My daughter laughs at the way I say ‘tamales’. I used to say it like a real Hispanic girl. Now, I cannot.”
She added: “People who don’t know me, they’re like ‘Hey, where are you from’. [I say] ‘I’m from Rosenberg’. There’re like ‘where’s that?’ I’m like ‘Right here in Rosenberg’. ‘Oh, you’re from here? How do you talk like that?’ So that’s how the whole story comes up.”
Ms Alamia is receiving speech therapy, and hopes to one day reclaim her original accent. Until then, she has agreed to help doctors conduct more research into what causes the condition, and raise awareness.
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