People around the world are talking about Thamsanqa Jantjie, the supposed sign language interpreter who made nonsensical signs while President Obama and others spoke at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa earlier this week. But only Jimmy Kimmel brought in a sign language expert to translate exactly what Jantjie was saying to the crowds.
Justin Maurer -- who has signed for some of “Jimmy Kimmel Live’s” concerts, including Hanson -- stood onstage next to Kimmel and watched clips of Jantjie doing his thing and attempted to relate what was actually being said. Sure enough, it had no relation to the words that were coming out of the speakers’ mouths.
“I support basic salutations here salutations,” Mauer translated while watching a clip of Mandela’s great-granddaughter Phumla Mandela. “Inside joining in this week’s cigarette inside to prove and on and on. To support, I would please to say from me to you. Talking to you so far.”
A second clip translated as: “Hello. Welcome so far. Well cigarette join bringing in different to you. Circle. And I would like to pray this offering. Basically this is fun, all of these balls to prove this is good. I’m sorry.”
Mauer explained to Kimmel: “It’s complete gibberish.”
“In your opinion, does this guy know sign language at all?” Kimmel asked.
“No, not at all,” Mauer said.
Jantjie has subsequently defended himself, telling the Johannesburg newspaper the Star that he suffers from schizophrenia and started hearing voices and hallucinating while on stage. It was because of those hallucinations, he said, that he made the nonsense gestures.
[For the record, 12:56 p.m., Dec. 12: A previous version of this post spelled the sign language interpreter’s name as Mauer. It is actually Justin Maurer.]