French Language Blog

“Ze” French Accent—By Accident? Posted by on Jun 14, 2013 in Culture, Vocabulary

Imagine if you woke up one day, only to find yourself speaking “wiz a verry strrong French accent“?

Assuming that you are not a native French speaker, or a person who lived long enough in a French-speaking country, that would seem just impossible?

Well, pas vraiment (not really.)

According to many neurologists, this condition, albeit a rare one, has occurred many times throughout history, and in different parts of the world.

It is known in French as “Syndrome de l’accent étranger“, or “Foreign Accent Syndrome” (FAS) in English, and was first discovered by a French scientist in the early 20th century.

Take the modern case of this lady, Leanne Rowe, who lives as far as it gets from France: Tasmania.

Before experiencing a serious car crash, Leanne spoke English just like any other born and raised Tasmanian.

Unfortunately, this condition left a deep impact upon her life.

Now, the accidental French-accented Tasmanian lady says that she lives as a recluse, preferring to go out only at night time.

Other people who suffered a similar experience seem to cope slightly better with this rather odd condition.

Cindylou Romberg has never left Port Angeles, Washington. Yet, after sustaining a head injury, she woke up speaking with un accent étranger that can easily be mistaken for Russian, Swedish, or even German.

Of course, many people who meet FAS victims for the first time may be tempted to think that they are simply faking it, since this condition is usually unheard of.

Now, the question is for you, mes amis:

What if for one reason or another -and preferably not because of an accident- you woke up one day speaking with un accent étranger (a foreign accent), what would be your reaction?

What if you could somehow select the foreign accent in question, which one would you choose, assuming you could not retrieve your normal accent?

Would speaking with a strong French accent be such a terrible thing for you?

To go back to Leanne, who is understandably upset about losing her original accent, one is tempted to say that there are far worse things that could have happened to her than just speaking with a thick French accent.

After all, she could have lost her ability to speak altogether.

In that sense, the lady a eu de la chance (was lucky.)

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  1. jihad tym:

    how ironical i was just asking myself today what can i say when anyone ask me in an interview for any certain job what about my 2 accents of Arabic language, why and how had i mastered them? and this post appeared accidentally just like how i spoke my second accent 😀 i’ve read about it before and knew it can be an extend in some nero cells in which one can acquire new things that is very far from his conscious to do . today after reading your article i finally knew a name for such a phenomenal it’s un accent étranger 😀