13 Dec 2013

Mandela Memorial Service Sign Language Interpreter Explains:


An intepreter on the Jimmy Kimmel show translates his sign language

The infamous sign language interpreter from Nelson Mandela’s funeral, Thamsanqa Jantjie, has claimed that he suffered from a schizophrenic attack that caused him to translate incorrectly and that he is an accredited sign language interpreter.

In an interview with the Associated Press he said: “What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium … I start realizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don’t know the attack of this problem, how it will come. Sometimes I react violent. … Sometimes I will see things that chase me.”

“I was in a very difficult position,” he added. “And remember those people, the president and everyone, they were armed, there was armed police around me. If I start panicking I’ll start being a problem. I have to deal with this in a manner so that I mustn’t embarrass my country.”

Jantjie also said that on the day of the service he was due for a check-up to determine whether the medication he takes was working, or whether he should go into a mental health facility for treatment.

Police visited Jantjie on Thursday to check on his well-being and decided that he was not a danger to himself or others, police spokesman Brigadier Neville Malila said.

Jantjie insisted he did carry out a proper sign language interpretation of the speeches. But he also apologised for a performance that has been called gibberish by many experts: “I would like to tell everybody that if I’ve offended anyone, please, forgive me,” he said.

Jantjie also said he received one year of training in sign language interpretation, though supporters for the deaf say it takes five years of training to become a qualified interpreter in South Africa.

Jo Atkinson, a clinical psychologist and researcher at the Centre for Deafness, Cognition and Language, and a medical expert from University College London said Jantjie’s brand of sign language didn’t look like it was caused by schizophrenia or another psychosis.

“The disruption of sign language in people with schizophrenia takes many forms, but this does not look like anything I have seen in signers with psychosis,” she said.

Jantjie has been sighted on video doing interpretation at other events in South Africa and has been derided as fake by people who use sign language.

Deputy Cabinet minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu apologised for hiring the alleged interpreter: “In the process, and in the speed of the event, a mistake happened,”

She apologized to deaf people around the world who were offended by the incomprehensible signing.

The episode highlights the need for a certified and/or notarised language translator.



 
 

Sign up to our newsletter

Get our blog articles straight to your inbox.