Readings — From the November 2016 issue

Francophony

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From a paper by Nicoletta Beschin, Angela de Bruin, and Sergio Della Sala that was published in the August 2016 issue of the scientific journal Cortex.

An Italian man, J.C., abruptly started speaking French, though his knowledge of the language is cursory. He had learned French at school and used it in his twenties with a French girl, but had not spoken it for thirty years. Before brain damage he never manifested a particular attachment to French culture. He now states that French is his preferred language.

J.C.’s French is maladroit and full of inaccuracies. He speaks fast, with exaggerated intonation. His vocabulary is reduced and he commits grammatical errors. He uses French to communicate with everybody: his Italian relatives, hospital inmates, the committee deciding on his pension scheme. He believes that he is thinking in French and he longs to watch French movies, buy French food, read French magazines. He shows no irritation if people do not understand him.

He presents with some delusions of grandeur, and he makes bread. He shows unjustified euphoria, which he labels joie de vivre. In the morning, he opens the windows and shouts bonjour, stating that it is a wonderful day.

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