Yes, Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) is a rare medical condition. I would know as I suffer from it myself. Have you any idea what it’s like having an American accent when you were born and raised (mostly) in Scotland? Well, let me just tell you… it’s utter hell.
To be more descriptive, FAS is a rare condition where one inadvertently develops an accent from a foreign country. It can be achieved at a young age by hearing a foreign accent on a movie or a TV show frequently (mostly by means of endless re-runs or a lot of characters with the same accent) or by listening to a relative or a significant other with a foreign accent more frequently than your native accent. In my case, it was the former (due to some sort of child fascination with West Side Story). Now for years, people have been asking me and questioning whether I am, in fact, an American. Some have even dared to flat-out deny my Scottish heritage. Such statements are serious blows to my emotional stability and many people look down on me for it. Why must I have to put up with their prejudices when they don’t know the first thing about me?
After all, forget accents, half the people my age can’t even speak the English language properly. Up in Scotland, most of the youth speak with the very unique dialect that is Scottish, which consists of many nonsense words that no one else understands, similar words with different meanings to the English dictionary and, more often than any other language I know of, swearing. Almost every sentence has some sort of derogatory term or a rude sexual reference because everyone was brought up with parents that didn’t mind shouting curses at each other across the dinner table. I was one of the lucky ones. My parents never said bad words around me so I wasn’t exposed to them until much later in life (at which point, I couldn’t stop laughing every time someone swore).
Anyway, my point is – people don’t like people who are different. This fact has been present in every social discrimination known to man (and teenagers) because everyone wishes that everyone was the same. If everyone was the same, there would be no disputes, no arguments and no conflict at all because everyone would agree with everyone. Unfortunately, that would mean no creativity, no uniqueness and no individuality – in other words, no human factor. Humans crave individuality as it makes everyone their own person. Sure, everyone wants a collective where everyone agrees with each other but they don’t want everyone to walk like them, talk like them, look like them or act like them because that just makes them feel like an old phone: obsolete.
Therefore, whenever people hear someone with a foreign accent, the immediately think “this person is different from me. Why?” It’s a very uncomfortable truth and I wish that people were more open to people like me. Right now, having a foreign accent makes you feel like one of the Native Americans (ironically). It makes you feel like everyone wants to drive you out of your homeland and exile you to a mysterious, barren wasteland where they would dare not go themselves, on account of its inhospitality, since its the only place they can think to put you. I might be exaggerating a little but this is honestly the feeling you get when you sound differently from everyone else.
I feel like I can sympathize with immigrants and foreign visitors who face this problem too and I hope that there aren’t many others like me who face this problem. To be called an American by your fellow countrymen and classmates, to be told that you don’t belong… it’s a bi**h.
Have you got the same problem? Do you know someone who has Foreign Accent Syndrome?