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JLeslie's avatar

Is it true the sign language interpreter at Mandela's funeral was a total fraud?

Asked by JLeslie (46168 points ) December 11th, 2013

I just heard that there was someone signing at the funeral and he was just waving his hands around in made up motions. How the heck did they let that happen? If it is true the entire recording of people eulogizing Mandela has someone standing next to them who is not who he said he was, and who made his way into this very important ceremony with heads of state from everywhere.

Did you hear about it? Do you have any details? What do you think about it?

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15 Answers

glacial's avatar

Sounds like it is true.

“Bogus sign language interpreters are a problem in South Africa, because people who know a few signs try to pass themselves off as interpreters, said [Ingrid Parkin, principal of the St. Vincent School for the Deaf in Johannesburg]. And those hiring them usually don’t sign, so they have no idea that the people they are hiring cannot do the job, she said.”

I’m just waiting to hear how this is Obama’s fault.

zenvelo's avatar

Looks like it is true that he was a fraud. Apparently he has been used in the past by the ANC, and questioned before. Leaders of hearing impaired South Africans complained during the service but he was not removed by the ANC.

JLeslie's avatar

Gawd. It would have been better not to have anyone signing. How can a country like South Africa make such a mistake? It isn’t a rinky dink, middle of nowhere, mini, primitive country. Don’t interpreters need certification in that country? Unbelievable.

glacial's avatar

@JLeslie Well, according to the article I linked, there is a 5-year training program for “qualification” in South Africa. The problem appears to be that ANC didn’t look for someone with that training. I don’t know why they didn’t; perhaps they will eventually explain themselves.

filmfann's avatar

I am unconvinced that he is a fraud. While his movements are not any language I know, they seem to have consistent patterns. If he doesn’t speak a well known sign language, he may be doing a lesser known one.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

He was a fake Somebody is going to get it over this one.

filmfann's avatar

I just showed the video to my wife. She sees the same things I do. She thinks it may be a minor language.

JLeslie's avatar

@filmfann Maybe it is the most commonly used sign in South Africa?

glacial's avatar

@JLeslie But then… why would the head of the SA deaf federation call it “gibberish”?

JLeslie's avatar

Good point.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@filmfann Just because you’re consistent in waving your hands around to certain things doesn’t make it a language. Given practice I’m sure anyone could pull it off.

WestRiverrat's avatar

My sister’s husband helped develop a standard sign language for Ghana. He said it was utter jibberish and he knows 14 year olds in Ghana that could have done a better job.

hearkat's avatar

The article I read said that he is not using any South African or other Sign Language, and they also make the point that he uses no facial expressions, which are important in Sign Languages. This guy had reportedly ‘worked’ at a previous event for the South African government. The article said that con-artist interpreters are not uncommon in that region.

Adagio's avatar

I saw him on a video of Jacob Zuma’s speech and even before I knew anything about the allegations against him could see he was making the same movements regardless of what was being said and as @hearkat has already mentioned he did not use any facial expression, his expression was completely deadpan. I’ve watched interpreters in the past and they were very expressive, using generous arm movements, I don’t know what he was doing there but the deaf community in South Africa was not happy by all accounts, they completely missed all the speeches made about their beloved Nelson Mandela.

JLeslie's avatar

I would assume they will broadcast it again with proper interpretation whether it be sign or subtitles, or I would assume the transcript will be published on line. Interpreters are not always present at things like this anyway. I think it is great when they do it.

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