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Australian woman who woke with Irish accent may be left with lifelong lilt

An Australian woman who woke up with an Irish-sounding accent over a week after getting her tonsi...
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

19.53 23 Jun 2021


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Australian woman who woke with...

Australian woman who woke with Irish accent may be left with lifelong lilt

Michael Staines
Michael Staines

19.53 23 Jun 2021


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An Australian woman who woke up with an Irish-sounding accent over a week after getting her tonsils removed may be left with an Irish lilt for life.

Brisbane native Angie Yen went viral after waking up to discover she had lost her Aussie accent and taken on an Irish twang.

On The Hard Shoulder this evening, said she got quite the shock that first morning.

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“I had my tonsils taken out on April 19th and about a week and a half or ten days later I woke up with an Irish-sounding accent which I didn’t recognise,” she said.

“I was getting ready for a job interview and I was just singing in the shower which I normally do and all these words were coming out; all the sounds I had never heard of before.

“I was panicking. I was in so much shock. I thought I was having a Freaky Friday moment; that I had woken up in the wrong body.

“I had to call one of my friends just to confirm and check whether I was talking in this funny way or my brain had gone crazy. They have travelled all over the world and they said why do you sound Irish? Why do you sound like the guys from my cross-fit?”

@newstalkfmOn The Hard Shoulder today @kieran.cuddihy was chatting to @angie.mcyen about her experience #foreignaccentsyndrome #howbizarre♬ original sound - Newstalk

She said she has never been to Ireland and has no Irish connection she knows of.

“I am as Asian as they come,” she said. “Maybe 500 generations ago somewhere there is an Irish line somewhere.

“I had no Irish influences whatsoever. Maybe some Peaky Blinders episodes many years ago and I listened to the Cranberries when I was a kid, but nothing that explains why … It is just so sudden and so bizarre - why this accent?”

@angie.mcyenDay 54: My 60 mins episode just aired nationwide across Australia. I have answers, but also have more questions about ##foreignaccentsyndrome ##foryou

♬ original sound - angie.mcyen

Ms Yen said she had a really high-pitched voice that first day but things have calmed down in the weeks since.

She said she has also noticed a big improvement in her singing voice – and is now hitting notes she was never able to hit before.

After her story went viral, Ms Yen said she was contacted by researchers at 60 Minutes Australia – who told her they had covered a similar story in the past.

She agreed to go on the show this week and sat through a brain scan, which found no abnormalities.

Irish brogue

“They confirmed there was nothing wrong they could find which is even more bizarre because usually this syndrome is triggered by a neurological event such as a stroke or seizure or migraine – which I initially thought I had,” she said.

“I was freaking out that I was going to have a stroke or a ticking timebomb in my head.

“Now I know everything is healthy but they still can’t give me answers. I still have some doubts whether maybe I am going to wake up one day with another accent or maybe my Aussie accent is going to come back. We don’t really know because the science is still so young in this area.”

Life-long

Doctors have warned her that it is not uncommon to never find out the cause of the syndrome – or for it recur again later in life.

“I was offered speech therapy to try and revert back to my Aussie accent but essentially what that is, is just trying to fake my Ozzie accent,” she said. “It won’t be a true one if that makes sense.

“I have tried very, very hard but it is like a rubber band. The best way I can explain it is, the harder you pull the rubber band away the harder you pull back to Irish,” she said.

“I now know that my accent actually drifts from British, American, Canadian and Irish – around that part of the world.

“At the end of the day, when I am really tired or fatigued or had a really bad day, my accent actually gets thicker. So today is actually pretty good. You caught me on a good day.”


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