A typical case occurred with a patient of the North Italian hospital. Patient E. all her 68 years of life spoke her native North Italian Veronese dialect, very different from the standard Italian — her second language, which she studied at school, but almost never used. As a result of a stroke, the patient was speechless and for two weeks did not say a word.
Then the power of speech returned to her. There seemed to be a complete recovery. But those who came to visit her relatives were amazed that she answered them in her second, half-forgotten, standard Italian. In her native Veronese dialect, which she spoke every day of her life, she could not utter a single phrase, although she understood those who spoke to her. It was as if after the disease had “erased” the part of the brain where the native, Veronese dialect was “recorded”, some other part of the brain that had returned to memory a long-forgotten second language came into operation. Continue reading