Englishman wakes up speaking Welsh after stroke

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London -

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.

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 Royal Navy Air Commodore, who lives with his wife Yvonne in Bathwick, Somerset, suffered the stroke in 2010.

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 again.

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.”- Daily Mail

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