Learn English with the News – American Woman Wakes Up Speaking With an Irish Accent

Could you imagine coming home from a visit to the dentist’s office and speaking with a foreign accent? That’s what happened to a woman in Newport, Oregon.

Karen Butler had a normal reaction to oral surgery such as swelling and pain. However, she also developed another symptom– talking in a funny accent. After some months, however, the Irish accent she adopted didn’t go away. Now, a year and a half later, she has been diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome, an extremely rare condition of which there are less than 100 reported cases. It is thought to be caused by brain damage or a stroke. In Karen Butler’s case, the reasons for it are unknown.
In the video below you can see a news report on her condition and hear her speak with an Irish accent. There are also video clips of what she sounded like before going under surgery. Can you hear the difference?

If you were to wake up from a surgery or trauma with a new accent, which would you prefer? An Irish, American, or maybe even French accent?

Do you find this syndrome credible or does it seem to you like a farce to you?


Surgery – (noun) medical treatment in which a doctor cuts into someone’s body in order to repair or remove damaged or diseased parts.

Adopted – (verb) to begin to use or have (a different manner, method, etc.)

Diagnosed – (verb) to recognize (a disease, illness, etc.) by examining someone.

Rare – (adj.) not common or usual : not often done, seen, or happening.

Trauma – (noun) a serious injury to a person’s body.

Credible – (adj.) able to be believed : reasonable to trust or believe.

Farce – (noun) something that is so bad that it is seen as ridiculous.

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  1. Hello Belinda,

    I don’t know if Foreign Accent Syndrome allows you to speak another language. Instead, Foreign Accent Syndrome affects the accent with which you speak your native language.

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