Canadian Sharon Campbell-Rayment never expected to solve a personal mystery when she called a bed & breakfast in the Scottish Highlands to book a room and ask for directions.
“Surely darlin’ you’ll know how to get here,” said the woman on the line, in a voice just like hers.
“Your accent tells me you’re from Inverness.”
Ms. Campbell-Rayment had never been to Scotland, where her daughter was attending school, let alone that particular city. She only assumed a Scottish accent two months after a nasty fall off her horse temporarily robbed her of speech.
Suddenly, the mother of two sounded nothing like her old self. She sounded like Mrs. Doubtfire.
Though her ancestors are Scottish, she’d never met a relative who spoke with the same r-rolling brogue that has leapt off her tongue for the past five years. And she didn’t know her new accent was from the Highlands.
Ms. Campbell-Rayment has foreign accent syndrome — a neurological condition that can cause sufferers of concussion, migraines or stroke to speak as if they’re from a totally different country.
The only thing Ms. Campbell-Rayment remembers from July 11, 2008, was her hat flying off her head in the moment before falling off her horse, Malachi. She hit the back of her head on the ground, hard. Then she sat up and fell back again.
“I had had this bruising from all this bouncing in the brain, but the most affected part was the left frontal lobe, which is the executive functioning area — decision-making, problem-solving, multi-tasking, all of these things I was really great at previously,” she said. That section of the brain also controls speech.