Imagine waking up one morning and speaking with a totally different accent. It would be terribly distressing after the first few moments of shock and awe. So much of ourselves is associated with how we speak; our accents tell a story of where we're from, where we've lived, of who we are.
So when 27-year-old Angie Yen from Brisbane, Australia, apparently woke up on April 28 to find out she'd lost her Aussie accent to an Irish one, her confusion was understandable.
Yen posted videos of her new Irish lilt on her TikTok account, garnering thousands of views as she documented her experience. How did this happen, you might ask. Yen had her tonsils removed in April, and after then, her accent mysteriously changed.
This isn't the first time that such a drastic change in accent has happened to someone. What Yen might be experiencing is called Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS).
What Foreign Accent Syndrome is
Someone with FAS "may speak with an accent of someone from a different country or region," explains Medical News Today.
FAS is typically caused by an injury to the central nervous system or after a head injury, stroke, or some other type of brain damage. It's extremely rare with only approximately 100 people having been diagnosed with the syndrome since it was first discovered in 1907, reports Healthline.
Other examples of FAS include another Australian woman who developed a French accent following a car accident, and one of the first documented cases happened to a Norwegian woman who developed a German accent after brain damage caused by shrapnel that hit her during WWII.
People with FAS tend to not perfectly replicate the foreign accent, however, their new way of speech does tend to stick around consistently. In 2019, a study observing 49 self-reported FAS participants noted that the new accents stuck around anywhere between two months and 18 years, with a median duration of three years.
There's no current cure for FAS, and it isn't harmful, but people who have it are urged to inform experts as soon as possible, as it can sometimes be a secondary side effect to another symptom.
Typically, someone with FAS is referred to a speech therapist, so that they can work on getting their old accent back.
In Yen's case, we hope she gains her familiar Australian accent back, as is her wish.