The Savant Syndrome

The Savant Syndrome

The Savant Syndrome


Leanne Rowe

Woman acquired a french accent after a hit on the head

Leanne Rowe, an Australian woman who suffered eight years ago in a traffic accident, began speaking english with a slight french accent after recovering from injuries sustained in the back and head.

As explained by Dr. Robert Newton, a woman, born on the island of Tasmania (South Australia), developed what is known as 'foreign accent syndrome', the second known in the country and the number 62 on speaking countries English in the last 70 years.

"Rowe studied French in school, but never been to France and do not have French friends," said one of the doctors who knows her from childhood.

"I had an Australian accent normal" he added.

His daughter Kate, meanwhile, says that now it is she who speaks publicly about his mother.

According to experts, this syndrome, first described in 1907, is listed as a side effect of a brain injury that affects the part that controls speech and manifests itself in a distortion of the joint planning and coordination processes.

Dr Newton says in the last 70 years there have been 62 cases recorded worldwide. 

He says Ms Rowe is one of two Australians with the syndrome. 

"She had a normal, if you like, Australian accent for the whole time I knew her before that," he said. "

She'd done French at school but she'd never been to France, didn't have any French friends at all. "

She turned up after having a nasty head injury eight years ago speaking with a French accent 

I couldn't believe my ears." 

She says it occurs when tissue in the speech area of the brain is damaged. 

She says it is not actually a French accent, it just sounds like it to the listener. "

It's just an accident of chance that happens to that person that what happens to their speech happens to overlap with the features of a known accent," she says.

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