Pamela Anderson Bowen lived in North Carolina almost all her life. People who meet her these days wonder where her accent is from, and try to guess her origin, and the common question she gets asked is, are you from Russia?
In 2012 at the age of 58, Pamela suffered a stroke that affected the muscles of the right side of her face and her arm. She was admitted to hospital and doctors diagnosed a clot as the cause of the stroke, the clot travelled through a previously non-diagnosed hole in her heart. She was discharged 3 days later and by then she regained feeling in her arm, but needed physical therapy to re-learn eating and brushing her teeth. Her speech went from slurred to clear. At times her voice sounded like herself, and at other times she sounded like she came from a foreign country. Pam suffered from a rare side effect of strokes known as “foreign accent syndrome”. Her accent goes from normal to various European sounding accents. Due to rewiring of the brain after the stroke, her pronunciation takes different accents, none of which is linguistically distinct to a single language. Her accents switch around a lot.
Foreign Accent Syndrome can occur after stroke, head injury and other causes of brain damage. It is a very rare syndrome and there are only about 100 cases diagnosed over the past century.