Aussie still struggles to say words a year after waking up with Irish accent

A woman who woke up to discover she had developed an Irish accent following tonsil surgery has claimed she still struggles to pronounce certain words every single day.

Angie Yen, who was born in Taiwan and moved to Australia when she was eight-years-old, first hit the headlines back in May last year when it was reported she claimed to be living with foreign accent syndrome.

The condition is an extremely rare brain disorder that can result in rapid change in the ways people speak. It usually happens if a person has sustained a head injury, stroke or has recently undergone surgery.

For Angie, her voice appeared to change just 10 days after she had her tonsils removed in April 2021.

The 29-year-old told she has not visited Ireland in her lifetime neither does she have any relatives who live there.

Now, a year down the line, she says her accent “hasn’t completely reverted back” to Australian.

She said “I still have a light American and Northern Irish lilt. It gets thicker when I’m stressed, tired or run down.

“I still struggle to pronounce words sometimes in my professional life as a dentist – embarrassing at times, people struggle to understand what I’m saying and I get frustrated being asked to repeat myself.

“I still sound different and some days with a thicker accent.”

Angie, who now resides in Brisbane, also said her life has changed quite dramatically over the past year.

“The speech issues were temporary struggles that got better with time but the long-term challenge is accepting my new accent, voice and identity,” she continued.

“Initially I was jumbling, stuttering my words, and now I still miss syllables when I am talking.

“For example – a word I still struggle to say is ‘exclusively’. I would somehow say ‘elusively’, but knowing that I meant exclusively."

Angie said she began to notice that her voice sounded a bit odd when she was singing in the shower on April 28, 2021. It was the same day she was due to attend a job interview.

She initially "freaked out" as she didn't know what was going on.

Then later on, one of her friends showed her a video of a British woman who once woke up to discover she had developed an “Asian-sounding accent”.

She then went to see an emergency doctor at a private hospital to talk about her worries, but they sent her away.

Angie said: “I was dismissed, laughed at, mocked but got no answers as to why I sounded like this. It was so crazy and bizarre."

She was later advised to contact an ear, nose and throat specialist due to the fact that she had had her tonsils removed around 10 days before.

It began to hit Angie that the accent "wasn’t going to go away anytime soon."

Over the past year Angie has faced issues with speech like experiencing stuttering, missing syllables when speaking and jumbling up words.

More than 12 months down the line she still doesn't know what exactly is wrong with her, and the lack of advice led her to take to TikTok to report her daily updates as to what it's like to cope with the condition.

It's hoped that by sharing her story more awareness will be raised about the confusing condition – that's only thought to affect around 150 in the entire world.

The first case is believed to have been reported as far back as 1907, and Angie said she hopes speaking out will encourage anyone who randomly develops a “funny accent” to reach out and seek help.

She added: “I am paying the favour forward by spreading awareness about this rare condition."

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