Guilty plea through wrong interpreter

Derek Thornton, not in his blog, but on FLEFO, mentioned an article of 9 July in the Trinidad Express: ‘Mute pleads guilty to murder’ by mistake.

bq. CONFUSION between two different types of sign language yesterday led to a mute man pleading guilty to murder.
Were it not for the quick intervention of defence attorney Ulric Skerritt, who brought the misunderstanding to Justice Melville Baird’s attention, Bharath Mansingh could have been sentenced to death.

The defendant knew ASL but the interpreter used Signed English.

It was only very recently that I read about the difference between ASL – American Sign Language – and Signed English. The former has its own grammar, whereas the latter follows the structure of English. But I can’t remember where I read this. Whoever wrote it also said that ASL was based on the sign language used by Trappist monks. I didn’t realize the idea of monks being silent was not to use their vocal chords – I thought it meant you should not communicate with other people at certain times.

Some interesting notes in the summary of a course given by Peter L. Patrick at Essex University: Introduction to the Sociolinguistics of Sign Languages.

At the library of Gallaudet University, there is a list of 114 sign languages.

Ruth Morris refers me to the Iqbal Begum case (thanks, Ruth!), not a sign language one, which is mentioned inter alia in a booklet on interpreting for the public services, produced by the Regional Language Network Northwest (in Britain).

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