Australian Leanne Rowe suffered a head injury in a car crash eight years ago, leaving her with a rare case of Foreign Accent Syndrome and an unwelcome French accent. Miriam Berger reports.
REPORTER: Leanne Rowe, a born and bred Tasmanian, used to speak like most other Australians. But eight years ago a bus crash forever changed her life - leaving her with a French accent. The rare condition is known as Foreign Accent Syndrome - and Rowe says that it has made her feel anxious, depressed and reclusive.
LEANNE ROWE: "I prefer night time because its very peaceful. Not many people about."
REPORTER: University of Sydney psychologist, Dr Karen Croot, says the syndrome is caused by tissue damage to area of the brain responsible for speech.
PSYCHOLOGIST, DR KAREN CROOT: "It's just an accident, an accident of chance that happens to that person. That what happens to their speech, happens to overlap with the features of a known accent."
REPORTER: Dr Robert Newton has been the Rowe family doctor for decades.
LEANNE ROWE'S DOCTOR, ROBERT NEWTON: "She turned up after having a nasty head injury eight years ago speaking with a French accent. I couldn't believe my ears."
REPORTER: But the rarity of her situation does not comfort Rowe, who is still awaiting a formal diagnosis.
LEANNE ROWE SAYING: "It makes me so angry because I am Australian. I am not French."
REPORTER: There have been only 62 cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome recorded globally in the last 70 years, including two Australians.