Nathanael Green's Blog

An advertising copywriter, novelist, and freelance writer's brain goo.

Go into a Coma, Speak Fluent German?

with 7 comments

In a previous post about language disorders, I mentioned Foreign Accent Syndrome. That’s where  a person who’s suffered a brain injury suddenly  sounds as if they have a foreign accent, usually due to a specific speech impediment.

Something seemingly similar, but actually quite different, happened recently in Croatia. This article talks about a recent instance when a girl awoke from a coma unable to speak her native Croatian. Instead, she was fluent in German.

Of course, being in a coma didn’t impart any miraculous lessons ala Phenomenon; she had been studying German already.

Still, it’s interesting to think about how the brain handles language if her first language (Croatian) is suddenly inaccessible and her facility with a second language she’d been studying is enhanced.

I don’t know how much follow-up there will be in this case, though I’d be very interested to learn if her Croatian returns, and if so, will she still retain a high-level of German proficiency?

Written by Nathanael Green

April 23, 2010 at 4:54 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Another good reason to study another language.


    April 23, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    • Like we needed another one! But be careful, Seana – I remember your yearning to learn an obscure, endangered language. So when you come out of the coma, you might only be able to speak with a handful of people!

      Nathanael Green

      April 24, 2010 at 4:17 pm

  2. Or none. Sigh. That would be so like me.


    April 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm

  3. Alright, just going to out myself here: Phenomenon, although hokey, is a pretty good movie.

    Brian O'Rourke

    May 8, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    • Brian,
      I can’t say I remember it very well. It’s been a while since I saw it, though I do remember being disappointed at the ending. That probably means that I enjoyed the rest of it.

      Nathanael Green

      May 17, 2010 at 9:30 pm

  4. There was a lady recently in UK – that managed to start talking in a Chinese accent, another in a Jamaican accent! Apparently doctors don’t know when their original accents will return. How strange and weird!


    May 17, 2010 at 7:12 am

    • Nina,
      If you think it’s strange and weird, just imagine how those ladies feel! Though, it might be fun if you got to decide on how you sounded before the fact.

      Nathanael Green

      May 17, 2010 at 9:28 pm

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