I met with a new friend tonight who I call “Fishers Fran.” We both have Foreign Accent Syndrome, (an extremely rare
medical condition that causes a person to speak with a foreign accent that is not their own) and live in the Indy area.
Fran had some friends tell her about hearing me on the WIBC 93.1 FM radio spots I’ve been doing over the last couple Tuesday mornings by invitation of the Morning Show personalities Terri Stacy and Big Joe Stayzniak. Her friends told her that she must listen. Then Fran took the initiative to call the radio station and they passed along my name and told her I was on FaceBook where she sent me a message.
Last Tuesday evening when we first spoke by phone, Fran had her normal voice. Her foreign accent came on suddenly for her along with left side neuromuscular symptoms back in 2005. Unlike me, her regular voice has returned, but she does have episodes where the accent returns for a few days. In fact she recently was interviewed about her Foreign Accent Syndrome story in an article for the April Issue of a magazine that is popular with the Catholic faith. I am sorry that I do not have the publications name right now, but I will edit this post when I have it.
Today she called to say that her voice has “flipped” so that she has the accent again. Her voice does have strong similarities to my own, but is definitely different. She can say some long “A” sounds that I cannot, and I can pronounce the “SK” sound that she cannot. So it was very enlightening as we met at a northeast side Steak and Shake for a friendly supper. Many patrons stared as we spoke and laughed together. Our waitress asked the inevitable “where are you from” question. To which we both smiled and replied “where do you think?”Â “Think” wasÂ pronounced “Sink” by Fran and more like “Tink” by me. Our waitress took a while to understand the fact that we are not FROM Europe and now living in the Indiana. Rather, we are both Midwestern Americans who are speaking with very strong foreign accents.Â She guessed Fran as more Eastern European and me she placed as Irish. LOL. Anyway our waitress Cloe was kind enough to snap our photo with my camera.
Given that there have been reportedly less than one hundred cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome ever reported worldwide and that so very few people, including medical professionals, have even heard of the affliction, I believe our budding friendship is an answer to prayer! It was encouraging to talk to someone who understands what it feels like to not have the voice/accent you have had your whole life. I feel greatly blessed by meeting her, and especially since she is within short driving distance.
We may have discovered a new comedy team in the making as well. We thoroughly entertained Fran’s daughters and husband with our silliness as we each corrected the others accent.Â Though our accents have some similar qualities, Fran sounds more Eastern block European (more Russian), whereas my accent sounds more French mixed with Norwegian. Her husband said that we sound like we are from different parts of Europe, but European all the same. I think it was an encouragement to her family as well as we were able to lightheartedly share our stories. Her family was able to see another person with the same thing happening so that they could feel less alone in the peculiarity of it.
Below is the link to a video that her daughter Celia shot of us. Please be kind to us as this was totally impromptu shooting so I am not wearing any make up and am looking more unkempt than I would have liked. However, the spontaneity of the shoot makes it too good not to post.
Now, I really would like to hear what you think about this post so please leave a comment. Thanks.