Australian Woman Gets French Accent After Car Crash

June 17, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Leanne Rowe, a Tasmanian women, got in a serious car accident eight years ago, and found herself lying in a hospital with a broken back and jaw.

After she recovered she found she spoke with what sounded like a French accent, and she can’t stop talking that way.

Robert Newtown, the family’s doctor, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Rowe likely has a rare condition called the Foreign Accent Syndrome.

The syndrome has very few known cases, including an Oregonian woman who after oral surgery started speaking with a different accent. Dr. Newtown said that in the last 70 years there have been 62 recorded cases.

Rowe said that since she has gained the new accent she’s become unsettled.

“It makes me so angry because I am Australian,” she said. “I am not French, [though] I do not have anything against the French people.”

Kate Mundy, Rowe’s daughter, said she now does most of the talking when her and her mother are out together in public. 

Karen Croot of the University of Sydney, who has researched the syndrome, said it happens when tissue in the speech area of the brain is damaged, and in this case is not actually a French accent, it just sounds like it.

“It’s just an accident of chance that happens to that person that what happens to their speech happens to overlap with the features of a known accent,” she said. 

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