Doctors diagnose former beauty queen with Foreign Accent Syndrome after she wakes up sounding just like Mary Poppins
A woman living in Arizona says she went to sleep with a “blinding headache” one night and awoke with a British accent, a condition doctors call Foreign Accent Syndrome.
Michelle Myers says she has not been able to shake her “Mary Poppins” London accent for two years, according to ABC affiliate KNXV.
It’s not the first time this has happened, according to Myers. She previously awoke from a pounding headache with an Irish lilt and later with an Australian accent. In this instance, Time says, the British accent stuck.
Foreign Accent Syndrome is a speech disorder that makes the sufferer sound like they have an accent from another country, according to the University of Texas Dallas.
The disorder is “easier to understand when you think about the minute changes that characterise what we perceive to be an accent,” says Business Insider. “Silence a few hard “r”s, curl the tongue on the occasional vowel, seal the lips, or swallow a consonant, and you’re suddenly speaking as someone might sound on a different continent.”
The condition is rare, with only about 60 cases reported in the past century, according to a 2011 study. In 2010, a woman in Virginia reportedly spoke with a Russian accent after she fell down the stairs and hit her head, says The Washington Post.