Aussies who woke up from surgery with IRISH accents despite never visiting the country reveal what it’s like living with the strange disorder
- Angie Yen, 28, has a rare medical condition known as Foreign Accent Syndrome
- Kate Baggs, 33, also began talking in a foreign accent following surgery in 2019
- Both women have developed Irish accents, despite no affiliation with the nation
- Dr Karl Kruszelnicki said condition may be caused by brain or immune disorder
Two Australian women have bonded in unique fashion after both developed thick Irish accents while recovering from surgery.
Brisbane dentist Angie Yen, 28, initially didn’t know what to think about her new twang following an operation on her tonsils.
Ms Yen has never been to the European nation, and certainly has no Irish heritage.
Same applies for Kate Baggs, who also began speaking in the foreign accent soon after suffering a rare form of migraine in 2019.
Mrs Baggs recalled her accent just ‘shifted’ in the middle of a sentence and said it was the ‘strangest feeling.’
Brisbane dentist Angie Yen (pictured) has bizarrely developed a thick Irish accent following recent tonsil surgery
Kate Baggs (pictured) also began talking in a foreign twang after surgery in 2019 – both women are suffering from a medical condition known as Foreign Accent Syndrome
Born in Taiwan but raised in Australia, Ms Yen was the recent subject of ridicule online, with people on TikTok convinced the 28-year-old was ‘putting on’ the iconic Irish brogue for a few cheap laughs.
Turns out Ms Yen is no budding comedian – like her newfound friend Mrs Baggs, she suffers from a rare brain disorder known as Foreign Accent Syndrome.
‘The Australian accent that I’ve known for a very long time was just wiped out overnight,’ Ms Yen told 60 Minutes reporter Sarah Abo.
‘I’m sick of being taken as a joke. It’s a very serious thing (condition).’
Professor Kirrie Ballard, a speech pathologist, confirmed the condition is medically genuine.
She labelled Foreign Accent Syndrome a ‘legitimate disorder’ which is triggered by psychological or neurological damage.
Doctor Karl Kruszelnicki also confirmed Foreign Accent Syndrome has been recorded about 100 times in history.
‘It is usually caused by a brain disorder. This can be from head injury, stroke or surgery. It can also be related to diabetes, immune disorders or other unknown causes,’ he said.
‘It’s not a real foreign accent, but rather a damaged form of the person’s native language and accent.’
Dr Karl said the disorder can be fixed through speech training, potentially through an acting school or a speech pathologist.
Ms Yen, who documented her transformation on TikTok over two weeks, showed the Irish accent progressively getting stronger as she recovered from surgery.
The accent didn’t ‘kick in’ until eight days after the operation in a phenomenon even her doctors couldn’t explain.
Australian Angie Yen (pictured) woke up from an operation on her tonsils to find she was speaking with an Irish accent eight days later
Ms Yen is suffering from Foreign Accent Syndrome, a condition that has only been recorded just over 100 times in history and usually occurs after a brain injury
She claims she went to the hospital and spoke to her specialist after the accent persisted but was told to ‘sit tight’ and ‘let the body heal’.
‘I woke up this morning and I was speaking with my Aussie accent, and I called one of my friends and confirmed that my Aussie accent was back but during the phone call, within five to 10 minutes, she could see the deterioration of my accent back to Irish,’ she said in one of her TikTok clips.
‘I don’t know what to do, this is something that’s very different. I’m not even trying, I’m completely freaked out. I thought it was going to go away eventually.’
Soon after, Ms Yen said there were ‘no traces of Aussie twangs anymore’ and she had gone ‘full Irish’.
‘I still can’t believe I woke up with an Irish accent. I’ve never been to Ireland. I grew up in Australia. My Aussie accent is gone.’
What is Foreign Accent Syndrome?
Foreign Accent Syndrome is a rare disorder that sees the patient speak with a different accent than their natural speaking style.
It is usually the result of a head or brain injury, with strokes being the most common cause.
FAS can also occur after trauma to the brain, bleeding in the brain, a brain tumour or multiple sclerosis.
It has only been recorded 100 times since its discovery in 1907.
It causes suffers to pronounce vowels in different manners, move their tongue and jaw differelt while speaking to produce a different sound and even substitute words for others they may not normally use.
Foreign Accent Syndrome can last months or years, or sometimes it may even be permanent.