Entered the hospital with headaches, left with 'a Chinese accent'

Sarah Colwill, a British woman who suffers from Foreign Accent Syndrome and developed what has been described as a "Chinese accent." Photo: SCMP Pictures

Sarah Colwill has never been to China. Yet, most people will claim that she sounds distinctively Chinese. Colwill suffers from a rare condition known as Foreign Accent Syndrome.  

Thursday, 31 October, 2013, 6:23pm 4 comments

One tongue, many voices: a lesson in the power of diversity

My daughter goes to an international school and English is not her first language. She says that she finds some of her teachers hard to understand. I've been to parents' meetings and some of the teachers do have very strong accents, and I too found it difficult to understand them. I would like her to have a proper English accent. Is she getting the role models she needs to learn English?

18 Dec 2011 - 12:00am

Tapping into a stress buster turns into a pointless distraction

Be Stress Free Fast US$0.99 Rating 1/10

Your 'Stress Free' experience starts with a free app - the test - which comprises 25 multiple choice questions to calculate your stress level. I clicked through it, answering 'usually true' to questions like 'I feel good about my life', and 'seldom true' to questions like 'I have physical pain'.

18 Oct 2011 - 12:00am

Linguistics and Language Technology

Name: Polly Lam

Age: 21

Course: Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Linguistics and Language Technology

School: The City University of Hong Kong

Year of Study: Year Two

Duration of programme: Three years

Young Post: What have you studied on your course?

8 Mar 2007 - 12:00am

FYI: The idea of waking up from a coma and speaking with a foreign accent sounds like something from a science-fiction film. What causes this problem?

FYI: The idea of waking up from a coma and speaking with a foreign accent sounds like something from a science-fiction film. What causes this problem?

Foreign accent syndrome is a rare medical condition linked to strokes and head injuries. It occurs when

23 Jul 2006 - 12:00am

Exercise a good way of beating stress

Everyone suffers from stress, from government officials to students. How do you cope? Some people start eating, others cry to let out their feelings. And some people get angry.

I'm sure we've all seen someone on the bus lose their temper and shout. We may think they're crazy, but maybe they're under a lot of pressure.

1 Jun 2006 - 12:00am

Words that cause confusion

Do you know the difference between 'liaise' and 'liaison'?

Liaise (v) - to establish links with someone who works in another department or organisation. When companies or people liaise with each other, they work together and keep each other fully informed.

Liaison (n) - co-operation between two groups, parties or companies

21 Sep 2005 - 12:00am

Dream Date

Let's go get a sandwich, shall we? I'm getting a bit hungry.


This one looks good! Chicken and mayonnaise on multi-grain bread . . . Yum!

I'll have a ham and cheese baguette, I think.

Oh, look at the gelato! I'll get a chocolate gelato as well.

Hey Anne, do you want a cookie?

8 Mar 2005 - 12:00am


Teachers' accents

I wish to voice my opinion about why students in Hong Kong find it difficult to learn to speak English well.

Teachers of English in Hong Kong all use different accents. Some have a British accent, others an American accent, and still others a Canadian accent, and there are those whose accents are hard to identify.

2 Apr 2004 - 12:00am

Language point

English words can be broken down into small units of sound called 'syllables'. This is useful to know when reading or playing a word-guessing game such as charades (first word, two syllables). Can you divide these two syllable words into their separate sound units?






15 Oct 2003 - 12:00am

Language point

To help you pronounce long words correctly, it is often useful to split them up into syllables in your head before you say them.

The following words all are made up of four syllables. Can you split each of them into their individual syllables or sounds?

1. Millennium

2. Embarrassment

3. Insensitive

4. Innovation

8 Oct 2003 - 12:00am

Ask Mr Brain... all will be explained

Why do seagulls stamp their feet on the wet grass early in the morning when it has just rained?

It is a kind of dance and is not only restricted to seagulls. Waders also like to dance, especially oystercatchers.

They do not only do the dance after raining, but also during heavy dew or when snow covering the ground has melted exposing large patches of grass.

6 Jun 2001 - 12:00am

Tuning in to language success

Students at Lingnan College have improved their English-speaking skills through a phonetics class which uses music and dance as the medium of instruction.

The innovative idea, initiated by Professor Raymond Huang, an expert on human speech and phonetics, gives language learners a fascinating insight into the unexplored world of intonation.

20 Jul 1999 - 12:00am

Tuning in to speech success

Have you ever wanted to speak English like Lady Diana or former governor Chris Patten? A renowned linguist uses music, dancing and singing to help students speak with the proper tone and rhythm.

President of the International Phonetics Institute, Professor Raymond Huang, said having good speaking skills was one of the ways to success.

26 Jan 1999 - 12:00am

Programs can be tone-deaf, too

Putonghua often is considered a difficult language to learn, for two main reasons - the writing system is complex and the tones are almost impossible to get right if you have not been born to it.

24 Feb 1998 - 12:00am