A Plague of Fake Interpreters

The Associated Press describes
what may be the single strangest story to come out of the Mandela

A man who appeared to provide sign language
interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service,
attended by scores of heads of state, was a “fake,” the national
director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said on

Four sign language experts, including Druchen, said the man was not
signing in South African or American sign languages and could not
have been signing in any other known sign language because there
was no structure to his arm and hand movements….Ingrid Parkin,
principal of the St. Vincent School for the Deaf in Johannesburg,
said she’s received complaints from the deaf community from Canada
to China about the man on stage and that his movements look “like
he’s signing gibberish.”

A strange story, but evidently not strange enough. File this
under Social Problems That Never Occurred To Me Before:

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 Parkin, the principal of the school for
the deaf. And those hiring them usually don’t sign, so they have no
idea that the people they are hiring cannot do the job, she

Bonus video: See the opening sketch here.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/11/a-plague-of-fake-interpreters

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