A mum says rare migraines have left her speaking an incredible SEVEN accents a week – including Scouse, Geordie, Jamaican and Australian.
Terri White, 48, breaks into different voices every day because of the way the brain is affected by the headaches.
The mum-of-two was born and bred in Hull, East Yorks., and has never even visited the places she’s started sounding like she’s from.
It started when after one ‘silent migraine’ she broke into a Scouse accent on the phone and her own daughter didn’t recognise her.
She has developed a condition known as Foreign Accent Syndrome and regularly talks in Geordie, Jamaican, Irish and Australian tones.
Terri has even started adopting stereotypical mannerisms and phrases, belting out Fog on The Tyne’ and saying “Top of the morning t’ya!”.
She says she has no control over the rare condition and says the accents are brought on by ‘silent’ migraines and flashing lights in her eyes.
Terri said: “In the beginning I was upset because I thought, ‘How long’s it going to last? What will people think of me?’
“But I’ve learnt to live with it now – it’s part of me. If people have a problem with it then it’s their problem and not mine.
“My sisters take the mickey out of me. Somebody at work asked me if I minded people laughing and I said, ‘No, I laugh because I don’t know what I’m going to say next’.”
Terri has lived with the rare Foreign Accent Syndrome for ten years after it took doctors three years to diagnose her following a suspected stroke.
Speaking about the first time her accent changed, Terri said: “The first thing that happened, I was eating something and my jaw just clicked.
“I thought nothing of it, but the next day I just couldn’t speak properly. I went to hospital and I was given an X-ray on my jaw, but they found nothing wrong.
“So I went back to work, and then suddenly I started speaking Liverpudlian and I was talking Liverpudlian all afternoon.
“I rang my youngest daughter Alicia from work because she loves the Liverpool accent.
“But she said, ‘You’re not my mum’, and she put the phone down on me. She didn’t recognise me – I was flabbergasted.
“I was bemused at the time. I thought, ‘I’ve never been to Liverpool in my life, what’s going on?'”
After just a couple of hours, Terri’s Scouse accent disappeared but, just days later, she suffered a suspected stroke while making a cup of tea.
She spent a month in hospital before her symptoms mysteriously vanished, leading doctors to rule out the diagnosis – despite the unfamiliar accents soon returning.
Terri’s mum June Harbord, 74, said Terri adopted stereotypical mannerisms associated with the different places.
“When she started speaking Geordie she started singing Fog On The Tyne and when she started speaking with an Irish accent, she’d say ‘Top of the morning t’ya!'”
Terri’s dialects only last for up to a few days or weeks and doctors say it is likely to be brought on my stress or emotion.
She says her vision and accents are linked – but medical professionals have said they are two separate conditions.
Her last “episode”, as she describes it, was several weeks ago.
Terri said strangers did not take her seriously when she insisted she was from Hull and now wants to raise awareness of the impediment which she said she has fully come to terms with.
Only 60 people in the world are thought to suffer from foreign accent syndrome.
Experts say it is caused by a ‘drawing out’ or ‘clipping’ of the vowels that mimics an accent even though the patient has limited exposure to that country.
It was first identified during the Second World War when a Norwegian woman was hit by shrapnel during an air raid.
She suffered brain damage and developed a strong German accent, which led to her being ostracised by her community in 1941.