Flashback: Foreign Accent Syndrome

Staff Blog

Staff Blog | Jan 11, 2013

In celebration of one of NPR's most durable errors, we sent our hapless lackeys down into the audio mines--and they resurfaced with one of one of our favorite Car Talk Moments from all time. This highly entertaining bit is brought to you by Tom's complete and utter inability to deliver a story without breaking down into hysterical fits of laughter.

This clip contains the first moment that Tommy learned of a rare disorder, "Foreign Accent Syndrome." It's amazing, and we caught it all on tape. Listen as Tom nearly laughs himself to death as he reports a case of a man who, after getting into a car accident, suddenly developed a French accent.

As Dave Barry might say, "We are not making this up."

You can also hear the brothers defile the French language with their dismal attempts at imagining what a post-collision conversation might sound like when one driver has spontaneously developed un accent français. [Editor's Note: Students of the French Language Strongly Cautioned; the hearing of this tape will undo the work of up to two full semesters at the Sorbonne.]

Tom and Ray participate in a treatment study for a related disorder, "Hawaiian Shirt Syndrome".
Tom and Ray participate in a treatment study for a related disorder, "Hawaiian Shirt Syndrome".

It's all just another example of Tom and Ray's long tradition of heaping shame upon their host network. After Tommy's botched reading, NPR had to ask a credible media outlet do a real story about Foreign Accent Syndrome to set the record straight.

Fun fact: Foreign Accent Syndrome now has its own celebrity victim, pop singer George Michael! Bonne Chance, George Michael, we have faith that you'll make a full recovery. And we'd like to think that Tommy's early crusade to bring awareness to this illness may have made some small difference in finding a cure.

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