When Karen Butler of Newport, Oregon went in for oral surgery about a year and a half ago, her life was changed forever. When the woman who has never been to Ireland in her life woke up, she spoke with an Irish accent, and she still does to this day.
Butler is one of the very, very select few afflicted with a disorder known as Foreign Accent Syndrome. According to The Oregonian, the paper to originally report on Butler’s story, there have been only about 60 documented cases worldwide since the 1900s. FAS is usually associated with strokes or other maladies involving brain damage, but it appears that this isn’t the case for Butler.
One of the most famous cases is that of a 30-year-old Norwegian woman who developed FAS in 1941 when shrapnel from a bomb dropped on Olso entered her brain. Unfortunately for this woman, the accent she developed was German, and this caused people to believe she was a German collaborator.
Butler’s case isn’t nearly so tragic, and, as evidenced in this segment of the Today Show, she’s actually kind of having fun.
“It’s just like a new toy, and we play with it,” Butler said.