Cranky Media Guy forwarded me this article on Ananova.com
about a Czech speedway rider who suffered a concussion during a race, was knocked out, and woke up speaking perfect English, with a posh British accent... even though he barely spoke a word of English before. His command of English only lasted for 48 hours, at which point his memory returned, as did his native Czech, and his English disappeared.
CMG is skeptical. He says, "The Foreign Accent Syndrome mentioned in the last paragraph is a real phenomenon but that's very different from a guy who doesn't speak a language suddenly acquiring the ability to speak it, which I can't see could be possible."
But I'm not so sure. The story has been reported in a number of newspapers, and in the version on metro.co.uk
, one of the rider's friends is quoted as saying, "Before his crash, his use of the English language was broken, to put it mildly."
Which means that he did know some English. It's very possible he knew more than he realized. Perhaps he woke up dazed, heard people around him speaking English (because the race was in England), and his brain went into English mode. It could happen. However, I'd be interested in knowing just how well he could carry on a conversation in English.
There's an additional factor here, though. Let's say that the likelihood of this story is 50/50. To me, the fact that it was reported by Ananova pushes it over to the "unlikely" side.
Kidding, but only just.
The media loves beating up a story, so it was probably not as amazing as it sounds. Like the 'Piano guy', the amnesia/psych patient. He was hardly like Daivd Helfgott, but they loved the 'Shine' parallels.
Sometimes people with brain damage suddenly remember things, or hear music or voices, from many years ago. Sometimes they even get lost in that earlier time. Maybe this man had heard a lot of English at some time and started repeating what he had heard back then?
On the other hand, if he understood everything people said to him in English and could produce atriculate, grammatically correct, appropriate responses, where he was never able to do so before, that is truly amazing.
Amazing and, I suspect, impossible.