During my exchanges with friends about the Corona restrictions in our countries of residence and the way in which these are communicated to the citizens, I have found that we have a trump card here in the Netherlands that is not to be found in any other country: We have Irma!
Irma Sluis is the sign language translator who translates the speeches of the Prime Minister and the ministers responsible at press conferences. She does this with body and soul – and with full physical commitment. And that in turn leads to the fact that nobody looks at Mark Rutte or the ministers any more, everyone only looks at Irma – because that’s where there is the most “action” to be seen.
Legendary, for example, is her portrayal of the term “hoarding”, in term in Dutch referring to the behaviour of a certain rodent. Irma not only depicted the expression with the corresponding gestures – she even manages to look like a hamster when she does it. Similarly Irma’s interpretation of “getting fresh air” (the expression in Dutch for this is “getting a fresh nose”) has been celebrated by many hearing Dutch people in the meantime, because you can’t express this fact more accurately.
So you can see for yourself what I mean, here is a link to Irma in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l8bdKw3V50
This was even honoured accordingly in the Heute-Show on ZDF:
(Irma shows up in second 49!)
Until a while ago, the press conferences still took place every week, and of course they had gigantic viewing figures. When it was announced that the situation had stabilised to the point where weekly press conferences were no longer necessary, there was general consternation in the country. Of course, everyone was happy about the positive signal, but the fact that Irma no longer appears on the screen every week is unacceptable!
In the meantime there are hymns to Irma:
…and even parodies.
For the Dutch, Irma Sluis was a rock in the surf in difficult and moving times. I think the deaf and hard of hearing citizens of the Netherlands will be the ones who will enjoy her popularity the most. When the whole nation calls for Irma, there may soon be live sign language translations on television on even more occasions.
German text: BBR
English translation: BCO
- Irma Sluis 3: BBR / foto from television