Englishman wakes up speaking Welsh after stroke

Rare brain disorder left English-speaking Alun Morgan only able to communicate in Welsh

An 81-year-old Englishman woke after a serious stroke to discover he could speak Welsh – despite spending only a few months there as an evacuee during the Second World War.

Morgan grew up speaking English, but after his stroke, lost the ability to communicate in any language but Welsh, even though he was last there 70 years ago.

Mr Morgan, whose sudden competence in Welsh is caused by a brain disorder called aphasia, is now re-learning English.

Apart from the single, short spell, the retiree has spent his life in England, although his grandmother – with  whom he lived during the war – was a Welsh speaker, as is his wife.

Speaking in Welsh from his home in from Bath, Somerset, yesterday, he said: “I was born in 1931 and when the war came I was sent down to Wales as an evacuee. It gave my wife the shock of her life when I started speaking Welsh. After the stroke it was hard going. I’ve managed to remember English but I’ve almost forgotten Welsh again.”

Joe Korner of the Stroke Association, which runs the Communication Support Service Mr Morgan used to recover some of his English, said that aphasia is one of the language issues which can arise after a stroke. He said sufferers can also begin speaking their own language in a different accent.

More commonly, though, stroke sufferers simply struggle to recall words. “Some say it is like having the word on the tip of your tongue; but with all words, all of the time,” he said.

Mr Korner added: “This is a pretty rare condition; we believe there may be around 250,000 sufferers in Britain, with only a handful of new cases each year.” He said that the Stroke Association believes that one reason could be that the brain’s “plasticity” leads it to find new ways of doing things previously taken for granted.

“We believe the damaged brain finds new pathways, which unlock memories or knowledge that is latent but not expressed,” said Mr Korner.

Mr Morgan said he spoke “a bit of both” languages as a child. He said: “We were London Welsh and I learned a bit of Welsh when I was in London. Then, when I was evacuated to Wales during the war, we spoke it virtually all the time because my aunt didn’t speak much English, so I had to pick it up very quickly.”

But his time in Wales was only four years and he has not spoken it since his childhood.

The Stroke Association recommends seeking urgent medical attention if someone is suspected of suffering from a stroke. More information can be found on their website: stroke.org.uk

The Aphasia affect

Aphasia, which is usually sparked by a stroke or serious head injury, is caused by damage to the parts of the brain responsible for language. Most sufferers lose language skills, but others can uncover abilities they didn’t know they had. In a similar condition known as “Foreign Accent Syndrome”, 49-year-old Kay Russell from Gloucestershire began speaking English with a French accent after suffering what she believed was a migraine. And 35-year-old Sarah Colwill from Devon began speaking with a Chinese accent after suffering similar pain. Other sufferers struggle to  remember words.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
News
news

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: SEN Teacher required with immediate...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required for a College i...

Year 1 Teacher required in Haverhill

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Teacher required for ...

Lecturer - Construction

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Construction Lecturer needed for a Col...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week