HIS Sign’s Cheri Martinez Appears on FOX News to Discuss Mandela Memorial’s Fake South African Sign Language Interpreter

cherifoxHIS Sign’s own Cheri Martinez appeared on Washington, D.C.’s FOX 5 news on December 11, 2013, to discuss with FOX’s news team the recent controversy surrounding a fake sign language interpreter at the Nelson Mandela memorial.

When asked her opinion on the controversy, Cheri stated, “Saddened, by such a historic event. Again, Deaf people just like to have access, and the Deaf community, yet again, at such a global event, did not gain the access that they really should have had.”

To view the video of the full interview click here. Unfortunately, the online video is not sub-titled or captioned, so below is a transcript of the interview. Many thanks to HIS Sign’s Jane Long for transcribing the video for our deaf and hard of hearing readers.

Video Transcript:

Fox News (FN):
Now at 5, a sign language scandal gaining national attention. You’ve seen this in social media. Sign language experts say that the sign language interpreter at the Nelson Mandela memorial service was using fake gestures. Language experts say the man was not signing in South African, nor American Sign Languages. Many believe the unidentified man was acting like an interpreter to make some quick money. Joining us now is Cheri Martinez; she is a certified interpreter and translator. Thank you for coming in. You’re with Hammrich Interpreting Services – is that right?

Cheri Martinez (CM):
Yes, sir

FN:
OK, a local group, here in the Washington area?

CM:
Yes, sir

FN:
You’ve seen the footage, I assume?

CM:
Yes, sir… first thing this morning.

FN:
First thing this morning? Could you make out anything that he was signing?

CM:
The first question I had, because it wasn’t American Sign Language, is I wanted to speak to some of my Deaf friends and talk to them and ask them what they thought about it. We all kind of agreed that we weren’t understanding what he said, regardless of what type of sign system it was, just because it didn’t follow the parameters of a natural language.

FN:
This is almost comical, but it’s not, when you realize people who are hard of hearing or have hearing issues are trying to take in this service. They’re not getting anything to help them. We’re showing him again – is anything that he’s doing – is he signing some words?

CM:
He’s signing what I would call iconic signs. You can see something like BOOK, TIME, which are very iconic. And so many people do believe, often times, that sign languages aren’t true languages, because of that iconic component. However, there are also arbitrary symbols of any language. So if you didn’t know American Sign Language, you wouldn’t be able to know what that sign was [HYPOCRITE], and that is actually the sign for “hypocrite”, or [IRONY] “irony,” “ironic,” “satire.” So he didn’t display any of those abstract, the type of caliber of language that is happening at this memorial service.

FN:
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but when people are signing, facial expressions are also sometimes important as well, is that right?

CM:
Oh, yes sir. To actually… because Deaf people can’t hear, it actually shows the intent of the speaker.

FN:
Right

CM:
So when you kind of have more of a flat speaker, or, in this situation, just very somber, then it’s going to reflect that on the face of a speaker. Or, if it’s a very exciting time.

FN:
Now again, his facial expressions were not particularly…

CM:
Was pretty much similar for every speaker.

FN:
Now is it possible he was using a language that we don’t know? Some South African sign language or something?

CM:
Again, I spoke with some of my Deaf friends and asked them what they thought, and again they just – a concern. It was a flag.

FN:
What’s your opinion of the whole thing? It seems insane to me.

CM:
Saddened, by such a historic event. Again, Deaf people just like to have access, and the Deaf community, yet again, at such a global event, did not gain the access that they really should have had.

FN:
And I think that’s what called attention to this, because people were watching all over the world, and within minutes, people started Tweeting and going to Facebook saying, “What is this? It makes no sense!”

CM:
Yes, exactly.

FN:
Cheri Martinez, we thank you for coming in. We just wanted to know for sure, is he signing anything? Apparently, he was not. Thank you, we appreciate it.

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