Life’s been full of uncertainties for Reuben Nsemoh lately.
A rare condition
Foreign accent syndrome is an extremely rare condition in which brain injuries change a person’s speech patterns, giving them a different accent. The first known case was reported in 1941, when a Norwegian woman suffered shrapnel injuries to the brain during a German bombing run — and started speaking with a German accent.
Since then there have been a few dozen reported cases.
Three years ago, police found a Navy vet unconscious in a Southern California motel. When he woke up, he had no memory of his previous life, and spoke only Swedish.
In Australia, a former bus driver got in a serious car crash that left her with a broken back and jaw. When she woke up, she was left with something completely unexpected: a French accent.
And earlier this year, a Texas woman who had surgery on her jaw, has sported a British accent ever since.
“It’s an impairment of motor control,” Dr. Karen Croot, one of the few experts in foreign accent syndrome, told CNN a few years ago. “Speech is one of the most complicated things we do, and there are a lot of brain centers involved in coordinating a lot of moving parts. If one or more of them are damaged, that can affect the timing, melody and tension of their speech.”