Englishman woke from coma after massive stroke to find he could only speak WELSHAlun Morgan evacuated to Wales as child, but never picked up native tongueDiagnosed with aphasia, which causes shift in the brain's language centre
01:40 GMT, 28 December 2012
An English man woke from a stroke to discover that the only language he could speak was Welsh.
Alun Morgan, 81, was forced to re-learn his native tongue, despite the fact that he had never been able to speak fluent Welsh.
Indeed, he wasn’t entirely confident with his newfound talent and used a Welsh dictionary to make sure he was speaking it correctly.
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Lost in translation: Englishman Alun Morgan woke up after suffering a severe stroke speaking fluent Welsh despite having never been to the country for 70 years
Since suffering the stroke, Mr Morgan
has been diagnosed with aphasia, which is caused by damage to the part
of the brain responsible for using and understanding language.
While the condition can leave people
with difficulties speaking and reading, the damage can also enhance
other areas of the brain.
Doctors believe the stroke must have suppressed his memory of English, while bringing his knowledge of Welsh to the fore.
Although Mr Morgan was brought up in
England, he was evacuated to his grandmother’s house in Wales during the
war when he was 12 years old.
The retired RAF Air Commodore, who lives with his wife Yvonne in Bathwick, Somerset, suffered the stroke in 2010.
'Not easy': Mr Morgan, 81, who was evacuated to Wales during the Second World War aged 10, but never learned the language, holds a sign that says 'I can speak Welsh'
Tongue terrified: Mr Morgan said his Welsh speaking gave his wife the shock of her life
A bombed-out church (left) and a shipment of haricot beans (right) being unloaded at the docks during the Second World War in Cardiff, Wales. Mr Morgan moved to the country for a year when he was 12 years old
He was taken to hospital where he spent three weeks being stabilised and assessed.
While he hadn’t lost the ability to speak, as happens to some stroke victims, doctors couldn’t understand a word he was saying.
He said: ‘It was clear something very funny was going on.
‘I was compos mentis but was speaking totally Welsh. It gave my wife the shock of her life.’
He believes his memories of the Welsh
language stem from his childhood. He moved to a small village in
Mid-Wales for a year in 1944 but returned home to London the following
year and lived the rest of his life in England.
He said: ‘I must have picked up the Welsh because my nan, who I went to live with during the war, spoke terrible English.’
Both Mr Morgan’s parents also spoke Welsh.
He added: ‘Having learned I was only
speaking in Welsh and not English, I got myself a good Welsh dictionary
to make sure I was speaking it correctly.’
Mr Morgan has been helped to overcome
the condition by the Communication Support Service, run by the Stroke
Association in Bath. He required lessons to learn to speak English
He said: ‘After the stroke it was hard going. Gradually the English words came back, but it wasn’t easy.’
But it seems his bilingual talents
won’t last long. He added: ‘I’ve managed to remember English but I’ve
almost forgotten Welsh again.’
Condition 'rewires the brain'
Foreign Accent Syndrome: Grandmother Kay Russell (left) began speaking in a French accent after developing a migraine, while Sarah Colwill (right) started talking in a Chinese accent after suffering the same illness
VIDEO Englishman tells how he turned Welsh after suffering a stroke
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