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A real sign language interpreter translates the sign language from Nelson Mandela’s funeral

Dec 12, 2013 By Abraham

Last night, Jimmy Kimmel brought an actual sign language interpreter on his show to tell us what the “interpreter” at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service was actually saying with his gibberish hand motions…

Of course, make sure you understand both sides of the issue before judging the seemingly fake interpreter.


  1. Thijs says:

    It’s interesting that he is actually saying . It’s gibberish, but it’s not NOT sign language.
    By the way, Jimmy missed a chance to ask the interpreter who signed at a Hanson concert what the sign for ‘mmmbop’ is! IMHO

  2. Michelle says:

    I’ll admit I don’t know much about sign language, but doesn’t every country have their own version? I’ve read before that American Sign Language (ASL) is very different from British, to the point that one cannot understand the other. So is the American interpreter that Kimmel hired interpreting the South African guy’s motions as what they would mean in ASL or does the American guy actually know South African sign language? I know the South African guy really was signing gibberish, that’s already been established; I’m just wondering if Kimmel’s interpreter is telling us what the guy is really signing or just what those signs would mean in ASL.

    1. Irena M says:

      Whoever was responsible for preparation of sign language interpretation failed miserably on all aspects. First of all for the prolonged and high-profile events they have several interpreters and each of them works only 20 minutes and the next is coming up, and so on. They put hallucinating schizophrenic with the violent past for entire 4 hours. That is brutal even for normal person.
      BTW: I’m just curious, M-a-n-d-e-l-a spells differently in different languages? I did not know that.

    2. Shaz says:

      Michelle, the American interpreter is telling us what the SA guys gestures would be if he were using ASL. If the SA guy were an actual interpreter, he would be using South African Sign Language, which is different from ASL. I guess they just took a little liberty for comic relief. :)

      I’ve been a sign language interpreter for many years in Canada (ASL is used in Canada). I watched the real interpreter (the one in the inset box) and could understand a few of her signs – the fingerspelling is the same as ASL – but I would not be able to understand most of what was signed.

      Search for “Fake Interpreter vs a Real One at Nelson Mandela Memorial”. The poster put them side by side.

  3. Man Man says:

    In South Africa the ANC have signed into law a Corrective Action Laws and Black Economic Empowerment Laws to correct the wrongs of the past.

    Black Economic Empowerment
    In the last 20 years Black Economic empowerment have only benefited a handful of well connected political people and have made them SUPER filthy rich in a couple of years by basically being given massive stakes in existing businesses. The masses are becoming poorer and poorer and the natural scapegoat for the masses are the struggling few whites left in the country. They are not worried that the ANC led government is pilfering the state the bad guys are the white minority imperialist clinging to power.

    Corrective Action Laws
    They have tried with feeble attempts, wrought with errors and bad policies to implement Corrective Action Laws. Basically the only requirement for you to get in the queue for a job (where you usually need a degree, diploma or basic education) is to be black (colored and asian won’t help much). What you see in this video is the result of that policy. Then people all over the world ask what is wrong with the white people in South Africa when all that the people that actually live hear sees is how the country is falling apart.

  4. Man Man says:

    There is no focus on education in South Africa. Our black school learners are last on the list of every international literacy test in the world while the white people know the value of education, even if you are only going to do normal school. Last year the ANC voters kept their own children from going to school to protest against the very politicians and regional counselors for whom they voted because the basic services are not delivered to them. The problem is that these politicians and counselors and black economic contractors cannot do the job even if they so dearly desired to do it because of incompetence as you see in the video above.

    All of this can be sorted out with time and most white people in S.A. is so willing and eager for change and to see change in the ANC govement for teh better.

    There is one cancer which you cannot cure and that is the cANCer of corruption. It permeates and stains everything and once it is in a society it stays forever. Ask the rest of Africa, Russia and Italy where the backhand is a legal profession.

  5. JC says:

    I think he was actually saying:

    “Mu…Murphy. You…you are an elf…uncontrollably…I think…a wee num yoho rengikyo”

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