Hatice Tatlıer, 27, a beauty salon proprietor from the southern city of Osmaniye, noticed something strange with her speech after a car crash she survived four months ago. Slurring her words, the woman was soon told by friends that she sounded like a Russian with limited command of Turkish, although she had never spoken Russian or had any familiarity with the language before the accident in which she received a head injury. Doctors diagnosed her with foreign accent syndrome, a rare condition affecting those who have had a stroke or brain injury.
"When I woke up one morning, I felt something was wrong. I thought my voice was different because I had just woken up. Then, when I talked to my family, my friends, they told me I sounded different. They couldn't understand a word I said at first. Some even said that I was speaking Russian," Tatlıer said.
Dr. Özgür Kaynak Hacıoğlu, the doctor who diagnosed her condition, said it is a rare condition usually among people whose muscles used for speaking were damaged. "Your voice, tone of your voice, is the sum of the coordination of your tongue, lips, jaw and vocal chords. When one of them is damaged, when the parts of the brain that controls these are damaged, you suffer from a disorder. It is basically a speech disorder, but people you speak to can think you are speaking a different language. It could be another accent, Chinese, German or altogether something very foreign to the person," he explained. Hacıoğlu said that only 60 cases of this syndrome have been reported worldwide and, in most cases, patients recover their original voice in time. "But we don't know when. It does not have a known treatment," he said.