According to ABC News, Karen Butler, aged 56, now speaks with a British-like accent, along with a slight Transylvanian inflection.
“I had just had surgery, so at first we assumed it was because of all of the swelling,” Butler said.
“But within a week the swelling went down and the accent stayed.”
Dr. Ted Lowenkopf, a neurologist and medical director at Providence Stroke Center in Portland, Oregon, confirmed Butler was suffering from the foreign accent syndrome, a very rare condition involving alteration in speech production.
This condition usually occurs as a side-effect of brain injury (for example minor stroke or head trauma) in the area of the brain responsible for language production and tone.
“Although we think it sounds like a British accent, if you had a language expert listening to her, they would say that’s not an English accent,” Lowenkopf explained.
“It’s sort of an amalgam of different-sounding speech that sounds like a foreign accent. But it’s not truly typical of any one foreign accent.”
Fortunately, the condition does not hinder Butler in her daily life.
The 56-year-old says she used to be extremely shy but the new accent has helped improve her social skills – because she can always find something to talk about when meeting new people.