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Geordie Woman Victim to Foreign Accent Syndrome

A Geordie woman has woken up after a stroke to find that her Geordie accent has gone, leaving in its place a Jamaican patois kind of accent//.

Lynda Walker, 60, is the victim of a rare affliction that leaves sufferers with a different accent. She regained consciousness after a stroke in March last year to find that she had lost her strong Geordie twang for a different accent.

Ms Walker said: “I got very down about it at first. It was so strange because you do not feel like the same person. I didn’t realise what I sounded like but then my speech therapist played a tape of me talking. I was just devastated.”

Researchers at Newcastle University are using Ms Walker as a case study for the rare ‘foreign accent syndrome’. Thus far only 50 cases have been documented over the past 65 years. The syndrome was identified in 1941 after a Norwegian woman, who suffered a shrapnel injury to her brain, began speaking with a strong German accent. It led to her being ostracized.

Researchers have proposed that a tiny part of the brain that affects speech has been damaged. It can result in altered pitch, lengthened syllables or mispronunciation, changing the speaker’s accent.

“It is like losing a big part of your identity,” Ms Walker said. “Everyone asks where I am from and if I say Westerhope, in Newcastle, they just laugh. They think I am lying. The worst thing is not having control over your own accent. I want my voice back but I don’t think that will ever happen.”

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