Australian Woman has French Accent Following Car Accident, Foreign Accent Syndrome to Blame

First Posted: Jun 17, 2013 03:30 PM EDT

For Leanne Rowe, a native of Australia, waking up from a car accident 8 years ago mysteriously gave her a French accent.

"Slowly, as my jaw started to heal, they said that I was slurring my words because I was on very powerful tablets," she told the ABC News, as she recalled waking up in Melbourne's Austin Hospital to a broken back and jaw from the serious wreck.

However, that slurring soon turned into a French accent and has stayed ever since, and though Rowe has studied the romance language, friends puzzle at why and how she picked up the accent.

According to family doctor Robert Newton, Rowe may be suffering from the extremely rare Foreign Accent Syndrome.

And though many may be envious of her newfound ability, Rowe says this life-long condition leaves her feeling rather anxious and depressed.

Prior to the crash, she was a bus driver and member of the Army reserve.

 "It makes me so angry because I am Australian. I am not French, [though] I do not have anything against the French people."

According to Newtown, there have only been 62 known cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome in the last 70 years.

Among the Australians who turned French, Judi Green also found herself with a French accent following a life-threatening incident when she developed a stroke  in her 30s.

The syndrome is caused by damage to portions of the brain that affect speech and the coordination of the muscles used when speaking. The damage changes the way the person pronounces particular vowels and consonants, shifts speech rhythm and positions the tongue differently during speech. 

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