A Foreign Exchange Reply

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Kelsey Bisetti and Mika Mendoza

Most people spend years learning to speak a new language, but for sixteen-year-old, Reuben Nsemoh, it comes involuntarily.

After being kicked in the face by a fellow soccer player, Reuben suffered traumatic brain injuries, resulting in a coma.

Soon after, Nsemoh awoke… speaking Spanish!

As you can imagine, it was quite a shock to family and friends. His mom said that Reuben had been studying Spanish at his high school in Atlanta, Georgia, but he was far from fluent.

Doctors diagnosed him with foreign accent syndrome, a rare condition marked by the ability to speak a language previously unknown by the patient.

Foreign accent syndrome is an affliction where the patient begins to speak another language probably due to recent experiences concerning speech. When the patient awakes, they are unable to recall their primary language, but they are fluent in the foreign language.

Dr. Karen Croot explained it like this, “Speech is one of the most complicated things we do, and there are a lot of brain centers involved in coordinating a lot of moving parts. If one or more of them are damaged, that can affect the timing, melody, and tension of their speech.”

Okay Staconians, please do NOT try to learn a new language by hurting yourself! Stay safe!  

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