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Italian man ‘turns French’ after brain injury

An Italian man has reportedly turned into a French man after suffering from brain damage.

Italian man 'turns French' after brain injury
Photos: Flickr

While suddenly making a total switch to the French language may sounds like a dream for many expats, it was the reality for an Italian man who suffered a brain injury.

The 50-year-old Italian can now speak “movie-like” French and poses as a “caricature of a French man” after he suffered a serious head trauma.

He even calls “bonjour” from his bedroom window each morning.

His only real interest in French before the injury was briefly dating a French woman while he was in his twenties, but he now has a passion for French films, books and food.

The University of Edinburgh recently released a report detailing the case in the journal Cortex.

They said that the patient had never “manifested a particular attachment to French culture or French cuisine” and had studied French at school but not spoken it “for decades”.

The report states, “[His] French is full of inaccuracies, yet he speaks it in a fast pace with exaggerated intonation using a movie-like prosody and posing as a typical caricature of a French man.”

“He uses French to communicate with everybody who is prepared to listen; he speaks French with his bewildered Italian relatives, with the consultants; he spoke French even in front of the befuddled committee deciding on his pension scheme.

“He shows no irritation if people do not understand him when he speaks in French.”

The man does continue to write in Italian, despite his insistence to speak in French.

“He claims that he cannot but speak French, he believes that he is thinking in French and he longs to watch French movies (which he never watched before), buys French food, reads French magazines and seldom French books, but he writes only in Italian,” the report continued. 

The 50-year-old has also shown other behavioural abnormalities, including delusions of grandeur, sleep disturbances and unjustified euphoria that he has aptly labeled “joie de vivre”.

This rare but not unique medical phenomenon is called compulsive foreign language syndrome.

Approximately 60 people worldwide have been recorded speaking in a foreign language after head trauma.

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THEFT

Fraudsters bottled €2m of fake French fine wine

Splashed out on a bottle of fine Burgundy wine recently? Well you might want to check the label very carefully after it emerged this week a Europe-wide probe has broken up a wine counterfeiting operation, which sold €2 million worth of the €8,000 a bottle Burgundy red Romanée-Conti.

Fraudsters bottled €2m of fake French fine wine
A Europe-wide police probe has finally broken up a €2-million French wine counterfeiting operation, which sold hundreds of fake bottles of Romanée-Conti Burgundy. Photo: Laurent Fievet/AFP

A police investigation across six European countries has finally dismantled a daring French wine counterfeiting operation, which had produced at least 400 fake bottles of a prestigious Burgundy Pinot Noir. The scam had netted the fraudsters €2 million in profit ($2.73 million).

In the end it was detectives in Italy who nabbed the two men at the helm of the network – an Italian father and son – on October 16th, after a year-long pursuit in France, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Cyprus, according to French radio Europe 1.

The pair suspected of being behind the operation aimed high, it seems, when chosing which wine to fake, targeting Romanée-Conti.

A Burgundy regarded as one of the world’s greatest wines, and certainly one of the priciest, Romanée-Conti normally sells at between €8,000 to €9,000 a bottle.

The ‘Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’ the estate behind the wine, in the Côte d’Or region of Burgundy, first alerted French police to fake Romanée bottles for sale on the French and international markets, late last year.

Investigators in nearby Dijon soon got their hands on several dozen bottles of the wine, which is fiercely protected in France as an AOC (controlled designation of origin).

A formal investigation into "organized fraud" was opened in March and ended last week in Italy with the arrest of the two primary suspects, along with five others thought to be part of a “structured organization.”

French authorities are awaiting extradition proceedings for the two Italian nationals, while “other suspects are being sought, in order to be able to present the entire counterfeiting network in evidence,” according to Dijon prosecutor Marie-Christine Tarrare.

Romanée-Conti wines are often regarded as some of the world’s greatest, and generally considered to be elite among Burgundies.

Only distributed through an established and exclusive network, bottles often cost upwards of €8,000 or €9,000 ($11,000-12,300).

At a Christie’s auction in Geneva in May 2011, an American collector paid a staggering €87,000 ($119,000) for a single bottle of Romanée-Conti dating from 1945, a mythical vintage to wine-lovers, because a freezing spring that year yielded only a fraction of the usual output. 

British wine expert Clive Coates once said of it: “If you do get to drink the wine in its prime you will be transported to heaven."

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