In a recent case, a British woman went for a nap while suffering a chronic migraine, woke to find she appeared to be speaking in a French accent and also used some phrases ungrammatically.
She was diagnosed with this 'foreign accent syndrome', an extremely rare condition that can be a side effect of severe brain injury, sometimes induced by a stroke. Friends she had known for years did not recognise her on the telephone and she had trouble convincing strangers she was British, although she had only ever been to France twice on short visits.
She lost so much confidence in herself that she gave up her job. She commented: ''You lose your identity and an awful lot about yourself. I feel like I come across as a different person.''
Professor Nick Miller, an expert on the syndrome at Newcastle University, explained: ''A lot of people with foreign accent syndrome speak of a loss of their former accent or speak in terms of bereavement as though they have lost a bit of their former selves. They say part of their personality has died almost, or been lost to them."
Doctors earlier this year diagnosed a 35 year old woman with Foreign Accent Syndrome from Devon, who used to speak with a West Country drawl, who began speaking in an accent that sounded as if she was Chinese.
This reminded me of the eye-opening experiences I had way back in 1982 at my first International Christian Conference held in Hong Kong. There were delegates from all around the world and, therefore of course, there was a wide spectrum of languages and accents.
There were Brazilians who spoke Portuguese, there were Central Americans who spoke Spanish, there were Indians who spoke Hindi and Egyptians who spoke Arabic and an array of English accents from African nationals that the ear needed to be carefully attuned to. Moreover the native English speakers themselves from Great Britain, America, India and even New Zealand had very differing accents.
Each morning there were Prayer sessions for each language group. I was so fascinated by it all that I made of point of dropping in to each group for a few minutes. I recognised spatterings of each language, as the subject interested me.
Listening to a Mexican praying aloud fervently with animation and frequently heard the word 'SeÃ±or' in a similar way to the Evangelists from America using 'Lord'.
I quickly realised that the prayers of the Saints came in all accents and languages and the Lord God heard them all.
Since then, I've attended innumerable international Christian conferences of all shapes and sizes; from Baptist World Congress' with 15,000 delegates, to mini-conferences on highly specialised subject with nine people.
What never ceases to amaze me is that when the Saints pray in their own language and varying accents, the Spirit of unity in Christ becomes the central motif. I for one, encourage every person to experience such encounters, so as to perhaps learn new and fresh ways to communicate with the Lord.