Waking Up with a Foreign Accent

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Imagine waking up one day and speaking with a foreign accent.

It happens to a handful of people with the rare disorder called Foreign Accent Syndrome. If you think they're faking it, think again. The people who suffer from Foreign Accent Syndrome would give anything to reverse it.

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It's hard to tell what type of accent Cindylou Romberg has.

"The accent will be very Russian or it will be very Swedish or it will be very German," Romberg said.

The main question though, is where that accent came from, considering the 51-year-old grandmother has never left her tiny town of Port Angeles, Washington.

Cindylou wants her old voice back because losing it, was like losing her her identity.

"It's a little sassy voice, you know, it's a voice I had for 49 year. It's a voice I'm used to, it's the voice I said 'I do' to, it's the voice I spoke to my grandchildren with you know, when they were first born," she said.

Doctors say Foreign Accent Syndrome is triggered by trauma to the left side of the brain, responsible for speech.

Back in the 1980s, Cindylou injured her brain in a car crash. But her speech was normal. Then, 17 years later, her foreign accent suddenly appeared right after a trip to the chiropractor.

"She may have experienced a decreased blood supply to the brain during the manipulation that resulted in additional injury that caused the foreign accent," said Dr. Dan Addison, Cindylou's doctor.

Other Cases

Foreign accent syndrome is so rare that it's hardly even mentioned in medical texts. In fact, less than two dozen cases have been documented since the first one in 1919.

Most cases are triggered by a stroke - as was the case with Cindy Langdor. Cindy now speaks with a French accent.

"This is the way I talk now. No, no I don't speak French at all. I have never spoke French," Cindy said.

Although Foreign Accent Syndrome does not lead to any other health problems, it's often a permanent condition.

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Lori Johnson

Lori Johnson

CBN News

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