Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS): Causes,Treatment, and Prevention

What is Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS)?

Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) is a rare medical condition in which a person suddenly develops a foreign accent and begins to speak with a different

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Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) is a rare medical condition in which a person suddenly develops a foreign accent and begins to speak with a different accent. This condition is described as foreign speech syndrome or foreign accent disorder. 

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It was first noticed in the year 1907, but is not very common and occurs mainly when the brain is affected either due to a trauma or a stroke or due to some developmental issues.

What Causes Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS)?

 Accent syndrome (FAS) is basically a speech disorder and since speech is controlled by the brain, the main causes of FAS are usually linked to the brain. The main causes could be:
  • Injury to the brain
  • Brain stroke
  • Brain developmental issues
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Conversion disorder
Foreign Accent Syndrome - Cancer Care of Western New York
Accent Syndrome – Cancer Care of Western New York
In rare cases picking up FAS from a person already suffering from FAS. Severe headaches or migraines also cause  Accent Syndrome FAS. 

Severe Headaches & Migraines can cause foreign accent syndrome


A classic example of this is Sarah Colwill a British lady who after an attack of a migraine woke up with a Chinese accent. This was called a Chinese foreign accent disorder.

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How do you Diagnose Foreign Accent Syndrome and what are the Symptoms?

The patients usually develop this syndrome suddenly. The main symptoms include:

  • Some common language changes include Spanish to Hungarian, American English to British English, and Japanese to Korean etc.
  • Change in the pronunciation of vowels and use of consonants.
  • Sometimes using the word “uh” along with a lot of words.
  • Some voice errors like pake instead of a bake.
  • Joining wrong sentences together

Diagnosis of Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS)

The physician will look into the entire medical history and the symptoms experienced before establishing the diagnosis. The doctor checks the reading and writing comprehension to assess if there is an issue. Following this, special investigations like a CT scan, MRI or PET scan to check for any damage or injury to the brain is done. They may also do an EEG (electroencephalogram) to check the activity of the brain. Once the reports are seen and the diagnosis of a foreign accent syndrome is made.

EEG to Diagnose Foreign Accent Syndrome

Treatment & Prevention of Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS)

Since this is a very rare disorder and mainly linked to the brain and speech, the treatment is also very symptomatic. If there is a brain injury, stroke or hemorrhage the primary treatment goal should be to treat the condition first. 

Other strategies include:

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  • Counseling from a psychologist will help to overcome the embarrassment and face society more confidently.
  • Speech therapy from a therapist who can help to bring a change in the accent and get you back to speaking in the native accent again.
  • FAS itself is a rare condition but if there is a history of strokes in the family, it is important to follow a few steps to prevent the onset of FAS.
  • Regular health checks and to keep blood pressure under control
  • Exercise regularly and keep a check on weight
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking
  • Prevention of  Accent Syndrome
  • A low dose of a blood thinner like aspirin can prevent any clots from occurring.

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Reference

Medindia/foreign-accent-syndrome Retrieved from
http://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/foreign-accent-syndrome.html

Last modified: 14 Mar, 2019

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