Friday, December 20, 2013

Nelson Mandela's funeral interpreter fiasco

Sometimes I wonder about interpreters and their skills. Then we saw the one at Nelson Mandela's funeral. I took a quick look and thought I was seeing some South African sign language, but a second look and a closer watch had me thinking differently. No facial expressions? Just about every sign language, no matter where you go, uses facial expressions. It's an important part of signing.

Next, just one? For an event that went 3-4 hours with multiple speakers? We've seen terps that have difficulty going more than 1-2 hours in an educational setting, even if the instructor doesn't talk fast. With the funeral, at least two terps, more like 3-4, would work well if one can't continue or people have an issue with understanding the signing.

Someone failed majorly out there when they picked this guy. Seriously, a mental illness keeping him from doing clear signs? We've heard this before, and even a person who knows sign with a mental illness can still sign well. Kind of reminds me of an episode of Spin City (Deaf Becomes Her - season 1, episode 20) where they have an terp for the mayor's address. YouTube has a clip. In this case, the guy had no skills, said he was a terp on his resume, and it was a comedy show.

But the lesson is still there. Check out the terps more carefully and have more than one.

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