How Do You Say It?

languagesThe weekend was full of activities, and a lot of it was spent with family and friends of family that I had not seen in years. All these relatives and friends were at two different big celebrations held over in both Michigan and Northern Indiana.

All but one set of relatives have never heard me speaking with the foreign accent that had suddenly came upon me on May 12th.
So imagine for a moment if you were me; how would you handle the attempted explanation of the inevitable questions “what happened to your voice?” “Why are you talking that way,” and from the less familiar relatives and friends “where are you from?”

There is no easy way to explain it. There is a rare disorder called Foreign Accent Syndrome and it causes me to speak with a foreign accent. I did manage to tell groups at a time while we sat together after eating. Although that helped cut down on the number of repeated explanations, I still became very tired of explaining something that is so hard to explain.

It all boils down to the fact that we don’t know exactly why it happened, or if I will get my regular voice back. However, in the meantime we are pressing on with investigations and tests to try to gain a better scientific understanding of how the brain works in relation to speech.

Still, it is fascinating and the listeners dropped their jaws when I sang a little bit for them in my regular voice. Then we had a good conversation about our bodies being fearfully and wonderfully made. What about attitude? We talked about how we don’t gain anything by worrying or fretting about something that we do not have any control over. Then I was able to talk about my faith in knowing that God remains in control of it all. That is how I truthfully am able to do as well emotionally as I have been.

I explained that I can have “joy” even in the midst of a trial. While I may not be “happy” about it, I can have times of laughter with others as we note the funny pronunciations of American English. Some mispronunciations make a normal saying sound even more funny. We can laugh together! I have been told by many people that it is the laughter that allows them to ask me more questions without feeling uncomfortable about it.

That brings me back to the conversation with them about what to say when I am asked so many times a day, “Where are you from?” I always answer, “where do you think? I seriously would like to know, because we are taking a poll.” Most people then apologize and express they are afraid to guess wrong. I tell them they cannot guess wrong, and that I will explain it after they guess. Then the people are more at ease and will play the game.

Here is how the poll is going this week:
1) English/Australian
2) Swedish
3) French
4) Some form of Slovick
5) And this week I have been getting repeated “South African” and even a specific “Rhodesia” and 6) one Portuguese.

Although there hasn’t been a clear winner as to which accent I am speaking, it is clear that it is a foreign one. The easiest way to describe it is the sound of a foreign born European coming to the United States and trying to speak English.


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One Response to “How Do You Say It?”

  1. Dawn says:

    Wow – I’ll bet some of the people in your family who have known you forever were pretty shocked to hear you speak! Glad to hear it was a good time and that your weekend was great. We missed you and Steve at church and look forward to seeing you soon.

    Love, Dawn

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