LOCAL 'AMERICAN': Katelyn Williamson's strong American accent still fools everyone she meets.
LOCAL 'AMERICAN': Katelyn Williamson's strong American accent still fools everyone she meets. Troy Jegers

Bizarre reason why Gympie girl speaks with American accent

KATELYN Williamson was born and raised in Gympie, but her strong American accent still fools everyone she meets.

The 24-year-old Gympie Times work experience student woke up in hospital "speaking like a yankee” after a serious head injury in an accident at her father's workplace as a toddler, and subsequent brain scans showed a rare disorder - foreign accent syndrome.

Not only had she adopted the accent, but her family recall her also using American slang.

"My mum was apparently terrified because I'd stopped breathing, I wasn't waking up,” she said of the injury.

"I was out for about a day. Apparently I started talking like a Yankee, not just the sound but also the words, like saying cola (instead of coke) and gas instead of fuel.

"My friends told me it was really strong when I was little.

"My mum and my brothers still pick me up on it every time, I honestly don't even think about it, it just feels like the right thing to say.

"Mostly I just don't notice it, until someone at work will ask where I'm from and it gets funny to see where they think I'm from.”

Macquarie University Professor of Cognitive Science Lyndsey Nickels describes foreign accent syndrome as "caused by brain damage which impairs the control of the muscles used to produce speech”.

Where she's from remains a common question for Katelyn, but the University of the Sunshine Coast creative writing major says it isn't a "big deal”.

She says the questions sometimes make her feel self-conscious, but she still enjoys the reactions.

"Usually, everyone guesses I'm from Canada. I had one woman who thought I was French, and I got California the other day,” she said.

"It used to drive my students crazy ... when I was teaching, they would ask where I was from and I'd say 'If you guess where I'm from I'll give you a whole kilo of lollies'.

"I almost had to show them my birth certificate to show them I was born here.”

Gympie Times


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