Does it make me a terrible person?

Okay, I *am* a terrible person, y’all know that already but am I even worse because I think the whole fake translator at the Mandela memorial service thing is funny?

The translation of speeches into sign language at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service was seen as a sign of inclusiveness, but it appears the sign language interpreter was a fake, according to several expert organisations.

Braam Jordaan, a deaf South African and board member of the World Deaf Federation, said the interpreter was making up signs as he went along. “The structure of his hand, facial expressions and the body movements did not follow what the speaker was saying,” Jordaan said.

The man who signed for a section of the ceremony, including Barack Obama’s speech, was simply making up his own signs, he said.

“I was really upset and humiliated,” Jordaan told the SBS news website. “He made up his own signs. What happened at the memorial service is truly disgraceful thing to see – it should not happen at all. What happened today will be forever aligned with Nelson Mandela and the deaf community, thanks to this fake interpreter.”

Members of South Africa’s deaf community have previously raised concerns about the interpreter, who has been used at other African National Congress events. Despite this an ANC spokesman said on Wednesday: “I don’t know this guy. He doesn’t work for the ANC. It was a government event.”

I have a confession: tales of fraud, fakery, and deception have long been catnip for me. I am not now nor have I ever been a con man but I find them fascinating. In this case, nobody was directly hurt and the whole thing has tickled my funny bone. Now that I think of it, that’s an odd expression. Bones can’t be tickled, at least not directly…

This guy has apparently “signed” at other events featuring scandal plagued President Jacob Zuma so my hunch is that the faker is Zuma’s ne’er do well nephew or idiot third cousin twice removed or is that second cousin thrice removed? That would be the most plausible explanation here in the Gret Stet and I suspect it works in South Africa as well.

I’ll let Elvis Costello have the last word now that it’s time to, uh, sign-off:

4 thoughts on “Does it make me a terrible person?

  1. jeffrey says:

    I thought it was pretty funny. But I also didn’t have a problem with the handshake or the selfies so I must be some kind of sicko

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  2. celcus says:

    You missed this ref:

    Does this make me a terrible person?

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  3. adrastos says:

    Yes but a calm one.

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  4. maplestreet says:

    Not a terrible person (since then I’ve laughed at the idea of Pres Obama being on the stage and me jumping up and giving him a hug – of course, I ignore being beaten by the entire security detail). There is a humorous slant on the event.
    But I also understand that this hit a red button for the deaf. So many times I’ve seen sign language debutants learn a little sign language and decide to change the signs (which can express words, phrases, and concepts) because it fits their sense of artsy-ness. I’ve seen way too many people point to their eyeball thinking they are signing the first person “I”.
    It gives a message that American Sign Language (or International Sign Language, or the common sign language for a good part of Africa) isn’t really a language – a message that too frequently hits the deaf in the face. Just imagine if you went to France and starting telling people there to change the pronunciation, grammar and/or syntax of French.

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