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In England, the land of waking up as something you weren't the night before, there lives one 38-year-old Sarah Colwill, who suffered a major migraine and woke up sounding like she was doing a terrible, racist Chinese accent a little over three years ago. Last night BBC One ran a special on Colwill called The Woman Who Woke Up Chinese. Highlights of the TLC-worthy one-woman reality show (who says she feels like she's "stuck inside of some kinda weird social experiment") are above.
Initially the special was all laughs — even Colwill describes herself as a "humorous anomaly." Lots of gags and recollections about her ordering Chinese food ensued. Her hairdresser called the situation "brilliant." Colwill can't say "can't" because it sounds like "cunt." But as the 50 minute doc went on, Colwill's frustration shone through and the extent of her debilitation was revealed (the "stroke-like event" that caused the speech disruption also damaged one side of her body, forcing her to walk with a cane, and a lot of her vocabulary evaporated, too). It turns out she suffers from Foreign Accent Syndrome, which sounds about as fake as her accent, but is in fact real. In the clip above, you can watch her dine with fellow Brit Kay Russell, who woke up sounding French and now just kind of sounds like she's from outer space.
Over the course of the special, Colwill made a lot of headway in rehabilitating her speech. A triumph of the human spirit-slash-tongue if ever there were. You can watch about 40 of the doc's 50 minutes (for whatever reason) on YouTube.