Ever wish you could speak another language fluently without having to go through all the trouble of learning it?
One Australian man seems to have done just that.
When 22-year-old Ben McMahon woke up from a week-long coma following a horrific car crash, he could speak fluent Mandarin.
“Most of it’s hazy, but when I woke up seeing a Chinese nurse, I thought I was in China,” McMahon told the Herald Sun. “It was like a dream. It was surreal. It was like my brain was in one place but my body was in another. I just started speaking Chinese – they were the first words that left my mouth.”
According to that nurse, McMahon’s first words, in Mandarin, were, “Excuse me nurse, I feel really sore here.”
McMahon said it took him a couple of days before he remembered how to speak English.
"When my parents came and saw me I’d speak to them in Mandarin." he told SBS 2. “That would have really frightened them.”
He admitted to having taken some Mandarin classes in the past — and even visiting Beijing before the accident — but he swore the language never really clicked until he woke up from the coma.
The incident occurred in 2012, and when McMahon left rehab, he started using his new language skills to his advantage. He conducted Chinese tours of Melbourne, and started hosting a popular Mandarin TV show called “Au My Ga,” which helped Chinese expats better understand Australian culture.
"They’ve really welcomed me with open arms,” McMahon said of the Chinese community in 2013. “There aren’t too many people that studied the Mandarin language at this level. That really gives you a lot of force behind yourself to just keep going and going.”
"When I look back over everything that’s happened, I’ve never heard him once complain," said Mark, McMahon’s dad. “He’s always been so positive.”
"I think that’s part of why he’s recovered [from the accident] so well."
McMahon is now studying commerce in Shanghai.
McMahon isn’t the only person to wake up from a coma speaking a new language.
In 2013, a California man found unconscious in a Palm Springs motel room woke up in the hospital speaking only Swedish, baffling doctors.
In 2010, a 13-year-old Croatian girl woke up from a coma speaking fluent German, despite only starting to learn the language before her brain injury.
And in 2006, Derek Amato suffered a brain injury and became a musical prodigy.
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