As the only international at Delta’s editorial meetings, I typically sit with Google Translate open. The majority of the conversation goes on around me in Dutch, a language I don’t speak.
But Delta didn’t hire me for my Dutch-language skills. I’m responsible for the English-language content, an area that continues to grow and grow. Since taking over as International Editor of Delta in 2012, the English-language content of Delta has expanded. Not only are there more pages in the magazine itself, but our English-language web content as grown as well.
While I’d love to say this was all my doing, the truth is Delta is simply following the trend being set by the rest of the university. As the special edition highlights, the university has been focussing more and more on internationalisation in the past decade. The formal opening ceremony of the university was held in English in 2013, for the first time in the university’s history. The bachelor’s programme in geoscience joined aerospace in switching its degree program requirements to English this year.
These changes have been prompted by the growing number of internationals employed by and enrolled in the university. Which, in turn, has prompted other changes. The change in the geoscience programme was due, in part, to an inability for the department to find enough qualified staff who spoke Dutch. Apparently, geoscience professors who are fluent in Dutch are as hard to find as English-languages editors.
One English-language project I will take credit for is this special edition of Delta. Institutional publications whose audiences are bi (or tri or more) lingual struggle to determine what languages to publish in. Should you do identical content and translate it? Separate publications for each language? Split the publication into language sections (as we do at Delta)? Each option has its own pros and cons. Writing in both languages allows each side of the paper to reach out to our own, unique audience. And let’s not forget that the majority of TU staff and students are fluent in Dutch. But as the number of internationals, whose common language is English, grows, so too does the demand for information in English.
Though I may have spearheaded this issue, it wouldn’t have been possible to put this together without the Central International Office, Student and Alumni Communications and Internal Communications. Nor would it have been possible without the amazing team of writers who dedicated themselves to it.
As I edited the articles, submitted by a dozen writers from seven nationalities, I mentioned to one of the Dutch writers that I was impressed by the quality of her written English. She writes only in Dutch and was concerned that her work would need considerable editing. She told me she’ll continue to read books in English, so she’ll be prepared if Delta switches to being an entirely-English publication. I told her I was heading off to my Dutch lessons.