Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA: The sign language interpreter at the memorial for Nelson Mandela apologized for his recent misinterpretation of several of the ceremony’s eulogies, leading to confused and garbled statements such as “Fat Space Omelette” and “Nrrrrhhk Grapeseed Oil Lounge Clock.”
The interpreter in question, Thamsanqa Jantjie, stated that he began to suffer from a schizophrenic episode during the event, and kept attempting to sign to keep up appearances. Jantjie stated that he “saw angels” coming into the stadium, and was made nervous by the many armed guards at the ceremony, leading to the botched signs as he attempted to continue.
Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, South Africa’s first deaf female MP, stated that deaf viewers felt insulted by the symbols, as they were left incredibly confused for the duration of the speeches taking place that day. “I have no idea what a ‘Turkey Promise Textbook Sandwich’ is, and many deaf viewers were wondering why President Obama was telling us about them.” She and other deaf viewers have stated that they thought they were being made fun of.
“I would like to officially apologize for any confusing statements I made during the ceremony,” said Jantjie. “It was not my intention to make anyone feel left out or befuddled with phrases such as, ‘Waffle Scissors Jump Potato’ or ‘Blessed Ice Cream Transcript Sellotape.’”
“Furthermore, when I accidentally signed, ‘He’s coming. You know what to do. Burn it all to the ground,’ I want to be completely clear that that was a mistake. It is pure coincidence that it ended up grammatically correct,” Jantie continued.
As the African National Congress investigates the organization that they hired Jantjie from, uncovering reports of previous complaints about his signing, Jantjie maintains that he is a “champion” of sign language. As proof, he signed to reporters, “Thank honey Kevin, swordfish computer much lovely college parsnip.” When asked for clarification, Jantjie stated that he meant every word.