Australian woman says she woke up with Irish accent after tonsil surgery

An Australian woman who underwent surgery on her tonsils in April says she woke up days later with an Irish accent. 

Angela Yen, 27, has been documenting her experience on the social media platform TikTok, where she explains that after she received a tonsillectomy on April 19, she was flabbergasted when she found herself speaking in an Irish accent. 

"I’ve never been to Ireland. I grew up in Australia and had an Aussie accent for the last 20 years since I moved here when I was 8 years old," she told Storyful. 

While many have commented on Yen’s posts saying she is faking it, Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki, an Australian science communicator explains that while instances like Yen’s are rare, they have been documented. 

Kruszelnicki explained in his own TikTok video that based on what he has observed, it is possible that Yen may have "foreign accent syndrome."


Good luck on your journey @angie.mcyen ! Keep us posted. #science #drkarl #drkarlkruszelnicki #tiktokaustralia #sciencetok

♬ original sound - Dr Karl 

Kruszelnicki said approximately 150 cases of foreign accent syndrome have been reported in various medical journals, but speculated that there could be more. 

In 2016, a Texas woman who underwent jaw surgery woke up with various accents, ranging between a British accent and a faint Australian twang.

Foreign accent syndrome is a rare medical condition that can result from trauma or an injury to the area of the brain that controls speech. The cause is often unknown, but it has been linked to strokes, head injuries and psychiatric conditions.

Kruszelnicki explained that Yen’s new accent is not a real one, but rather a damaged form of her native language. He said that similar to how alcohol can impact speech patterns and cause a person to slur their words, a traumatizing event on the body like tonsil surgery could impact the way she speaks. 

In her most recent update, Yen hit back at a skeptical commenter, documenting the amount she could end up spending in medical bills while trying to get her Australian accent back.

The good news for her, Kruszelnicki said, is that it is entirely possible that speech therapy may be able to help her restore her usual accent.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press and Storyful contributed.