Helping the hearing impaired join in on the metaphoric conversation is an important task, sign language interpreters, like all interpreters, have a hefty responsibility.
At this week’s funeral for the incredible man Nelson Mandela one interpreter went rogue, with arms flailing wildly interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie single handily made the deaf community throw up its arms in disgust.
Presented for your viewing pleasure is the Jimmy Kimmel translation of sign language gone bad. A display that may leave you torn between moral outrage and outrageous laughter. Obviously Thamsanqa is in the wrong business, this man should be in comedy.
As soon as Thamsanqa began his mind numbing performance the twitter sphere lit up with deaf tweeters typing loudly. The world quickly caught on, this was no legitimate display of linguistic dexterity. Instead it simply resembled a crazy man waving his arms, almost like some kind of comedy stunt that worked too well.
Thamsanqa has quickly hit back at detractors stating that he was having a schizophrenic episode. Angels had appeared, trumpets were blasting from the heavens and voices rang out inside his head. You do have to love his commitment to the bit.
He has also since apologized for his admittedly poor performance, but he does insist he was doing proper sign language interpretations of what was being said. Jimmy Kimmel’s sign language interpreter might beg to differ however, and even argue his point using sign. An argument tough for Thamsanqa to win when you’re last appearance saw you signing cigarette cigarette circle while standing behind President Obama.
Then there is the footage of the world’s most hilarious signer performing the same sign language gibberish while at an ANC rally. Now that the spot light is on Thamsanqa people are reviewing his work, as the ANC rally shows this has been a long play bluff. Making the situation look even worse is the fact that the agency that represented Thamsanqa has shut up shop and disappeared.
Still the idea has certain logic to it; he has completely avoided the hardest part of being an interpreter, learning the language well, very well. Skipping instead to the well paid part of the career, interpreter.
Could all of this attention suggest Thasanqa was a victim of his own success? Or was he simply signing with a very strong accent?