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Amateur interpreter uses ‘pizza’, ‘monster’, ‘bear’ in sign language during Irma briefing, triggers row

Manatee County leaders asked amateur interpreter Marshall Greene to pitch in shortly before they were to address the public with “crucial” information.

world Updated: Sep 16, 2017 12:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Hurricane Irma,Sign language,Interpreter
Marshall Greene was asked by Manatee County to interpret what was being said at a press briefing on Hurricane Irma.(YouTube video grab)

An American county’s last-minute decision to rope in an amateur interpreter for a press briefing on Hurricane Irma has triggered a controversy after experts said the lifeguard signed words such as “pizza”, “monster” and “bear”.

Manatee County leaders asked Marshall Greene to pitch in shortly before they were to address the public with “crucial” information, New York Post said in a report.

Greene, who uses the sign language to communicate with his brother, signed words unrelated to what the speaker was saying at the news conference, it said.

Hurricane Irma, which ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record before striking the US mainland as a Category 4 hurricane on September 10, killed at least 84 people. Several hard-hit Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, suffered more than half the fatalities.

Greene’s family told a news station, WFLA, he was doing what the county asked for. “He can’t be expected to communicate something he doesn’t know,” his father said.

Experts and activists have demanded an apology over Florida officials’ decision to use the amateur interpreter.

First Published: Sep 16, 2017 12:12 IST