It has happened again, another person has become the victim of foreign accent syndrome and developed and Irish accent, among others. Jill McKerrow, from New Zealand, now speaks with an Irish, American or Scottish accent depending on the topic of the conversation.
Speaking in a broad Irish accent she told the Dominion Post "I never talked like this before – I just talked Blenheim-like."
Back in May 2008 McKerrow suffered a stroke which left her with this strange speech disorder which is believed to affect less than 100 people worldwide. Although most of the victims of this disorder speak with just one new accent McKerrow speaking with a different accent depending on what she talks about.
McKerrow's accent has never slipped back into her normal accent since the stroke and she is unaware of any ancestry in the US, Ireland or Scotland. She said "There's not many people in New Zealand with this type of condition. I think I'm about the rarest, certainly in Blenheim…At first when I went to the shops people couldn't understand me. In fact, they still can't. So my friend used to do all my talking for me."
Neurological Foundation medical adviser Jonathan Simcock said the three accents makes McKerrow's conditions particularly unusual. He said that during his 40-year career he's never dealt with anything like this condition.
The condition is generally caused by a stroke in the left side of the brain which controls language. Experts say that it not exactly the accent which changes but the impression of an accent due to the change of prolonged vowels and the alteration of speech rhythm patterns.
One of the most famous examples of the condition is that of British man, Chris Gregory, who woke up after an operation with an Irish accent. Seeing the funny side of it and perhaps affected by the anesthetic he broke into song, singing "Danny Boy" in his new-found Irish accent. Happily his accent eventually returned to normal.
Other strange example of the conditions include British woman Sarah Colwill who woke up with a Chinese accent and another British woman, Linda Walker who woke up with a Jamaican accent.