Texas Mom Wakes Up From Jaw Surgery With a British Accent

Posted at 9:43 AM, Jun 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-23 09:43:30-04

A Texas woman went into jaw surgery to correct an overbite and while she got her new smile, she got something she did not plan for: a British accent.

Lisa Alamia was diagnosed with foreign accent syndrome, an extremely rare speech disorder that alters the person's speech so that a person appears to speak with a "foreign" accent.

When the mother of three underwent the lower-jaw surgery in December 2015 and came home with a British accent, her children thought she was kidding.

"I was very shocked,” Alamia told ABC News. “I didn't know how to take it. I was very confused. I said 'Ya'll’ all the time before the accent. Once I got the accent, I started noticing I'd say, 'You all.’"

Doctors estimate the speech disorder has affected fewer than 100 people in 100 years worldwide. The condition is most often caused by a brain injury, but Alamia's neurologist said everything came back normal after a full range of tests.

"It's such a rare condition that neurologists don't believe that this is a real condition," Dr. Toby Yaltho of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates told ABC News. "The big thing is to know that she's not faking it."

Alamia said, "I've never been outside of the country, except for a mission trip to Mexico. That's not where my accent came from."

There is no known cure for the condition and while the accent can diminish over time, it can also be permanent.

Alamia, who feared people wouldn't believe her, is planning to start speech therapy, and says she's come to realize that the accent doesn't define her.

"In the beginning, that was my fear: 'Oh, is she lying?' I said, ‘You know what, Lisa? You're still you. You are who you are,’" she said.